enismirdal: (Bee!13)
I hang out on a couple of hamster groups as they're a useful source of tips, advice and ideas about making Lupanine's life as interesting and fun as possible.

One thing that has been really irritating me lately, however, is some of the teenagers on them. Typical scenario would be a 16 year old, keeping a hamster they legitimately do adore and want to do the best for. But then they come up against either the hamster getting sick at 10pm on a Saturday night. "Mum refuses to let me take it to the vet and I can't get there on my own!" Alternatively, it's pointed out that the cage is not suitable (too small, or wrong design for that type of hamster). "I can't afford the big cage!" or "Mum won't let me have something that big!"

I realise finances are tight for lots of people, and that circumstances can change, but I am firmly in the camp of, if you get a hamster knowing you cannot afford an emergency vet's trip out of hours for your hamster, you cannot afford to have a hamster and need to not have hamsters. And if your only way to get an animal to an out of hours vet is to be driven by your parents who don't believe it's necessary, you're basically accepting that you're prepared to let your pet suffer if it's unlucky enough to get sick between 5pm on a Friday and 8am on a Monday.

The number of teenagers recently who have been in tears on the group because their hamster has wet tail or their parents are threatening to take an accidental litter to an indiscriminate pet shop, and when you ask, "Well, can't you get a taxi? How much trouble are you willing to put yourself to in order to sort this - will you organise a pet taxi yourself?" and realise they can't (or don't have the maturity to) do it themselves... It just seems so unfair on the hamster in such a situation.

I wish there was some sort of pet savings account where people had to show it had a balance of £300 in before they'd be allowed to buy/adopt a pet. That still wouldn't go far in the case of something like a cat hit by a car or a dog with cancer, but it would cover short-term hamster emergencies.

It makes me frustrated because there's nothing I can do about it. You can't really have a go at these teenagers as that doesn't improve the situation and just makes them feel more guilty. But I really wish people would think pets through properly and consider the worst case scenario as well as the fluffy cuddles.

(Yes, I realise this might be controversial and there are complex situations, but still... I don't think there are really any excuses for messing with pets' welfare.)

enismirdal: (Bee!13)
...I just remembered takeaways exist and can deliver to houses.

Longish day at work (stayed late as popular colleague was giving an evening public lecture), CRI away, don't fancy cooking and didn't really want to divert to one of the big supermarkets on the way home and go through shopping faff.

But if I want to, I can use the power of the internet to furnish me with curry and I don't even have to talk to humans!
enismirdal: (Default)
I am now on Dreamwidth. Let's see how this goes.
enismirdal: (main draggy)
Like many others, moving to DW. Not comfortable with having my Stuff held under Russian law for longer than is necessary to import the old LJ stuff into DW, sorry.

Same username. Currently importing entries.

Once all the archive is moved across I'll probably delete this fairly quickly. We had some good times, LJ, but you are not the same site that the orignal inventors had in mind back in the day.
enismirdal: (Bee!14)
An annoying, potentially catastrophic, but expected thing happened today. In the interests of not moping about that, I will list the things that were excellent that happened today:

  1. Excellent meeting with many potential collaborators, which is likely to lead to exciting work stuff!

  2. Tea with [livejournal.com profile] doseybat, who I haven't seen in person for ages but is still as lovely and interesting in person as online, and that was super!

  3. Our toilet flush sheared off last night, which wasn't great, but the eternally lovely and ingenious CRI bought a replacement flush mechanism and fitted it while I was out, and now the flush works better than it has in months and I am very grateful to him.

  4. I got to prance around cherry trees in blossom (with comfrey growing underneath) looking at bees and got some good pictures too, I think, and saw a pair of yaffles and a jay and parakeets.

So on balance, I enjoyed today despite politics.
enismirdal: (Bee!11)
OK, so thought experiment...

A magic portal opens up between you and a magical parallel universe that's pre-industrial (or near-as) - think Narnia, Arda, Damar, Valdemar, pick your poison - and you get to control what influence from our collective Earth culture goes through. What do you introduce, and what do you intentionally deny/spare them?

I mean, we need to make a few assumptions: do they have polio? Is it the same as our polio? If the new world has preventable diseases that are like ours, and we have vaccines/treatments, I couldn't in good faith hold them back. I mean, could you really say, "Sorry, we want to keep your culture and world pure, so your daughter is just going to have to get polio, oh well"?

And I guess if they grow, say, potatoes, and we grow potatoes, and we have better yielding varieties, I'd want to introduce the new varieties, because how can you really refuse a community the option of increasing their yields by 200% or something? But you'd have to do it without introducing all the associated pests and diseases.

But they probably have their own crop pests and diseases. So do you introduce pesticides? If I met a culture and I wanted to help, could I, in good conscience, say, "Look, here's lambda-cyhalothrin, I'll sell it to you"?

Of course, then it gets more complicated. If they had massive reserves of a trace metal, like vanadium or something and an unnamed other Earth government approached them, bypassing you, saying, "Look, if you let us mine your vanadium, we'll build you nice roads and sell you cheap cars and cool gizmos," how hard do you argue with the hypothetical magic Queen that no, she really doesn't want that to happen to her country and the road-building will involve introduction of invasive plants, the quarrying will rip out sections of forest and grassland and they won't be the same for millennia, etc.

Makes me want to write a novel. I guess the Sparrow and Children of God touched on some of the ideas, but were really about other matters.

Perhaps I'll doodle some scenes about it...
enismirdal: (main draggy)
When the weekend comes around, my natural inclination is normally to spend as much time vegetating on the sofa, spodding and generally minimising human contact and maximising tea intake. (Indeed, if I don't get a decent amount of downtime at weekends each month I start to stress out.) The trouble with this is, when taken to extremes, I end up stuffy-headed, grumpy and with a monster headache. All of which is not desirable at all.

I've finally reached a stage in life where I can get up at "average human" times without physical distress, and getting up between 8 and 9am on a weekend recharges my batteries properly and leaves me feeling non-tired. This helps. It gives me much more daylight to do Things in.

The other thing I've found that helps to avoid symptoms of extreme vegetation is the Three Things rule. On weekends, bank holidays and other days off, I set myself the task of doing three distinct tasks over the course of the day. These are governed by a few guidelines:
1. They have to be useful. Binge-watching Silent Witness on Netflix is NOT an acceptable thing.
2. Following on from this, they can't be purely for pleasure even if they're sort of useful, like writing stories or playing Fungi with CRI. (Incidentally, Fungi is an awesome two-player card game and I wholeheartedly recommend it.)
3. They mustn't be things I'd do anyway, like having a shower, or washing up after dinner. They have to be in addition to those things.
4. They can't be non-negotiable things that must happen that day no matter what, like cleaning out Lupanine if she is due for it.
Thus, a combination of check car tyre pressure/repot plant/sweep kitchen floor counts, as does go to Tesco/mark students' papers/mend hem on trousers. I am still on the fence about whether something like laundry (which can be put off for a while but isn't really a lot of effort) should count, and ditto for cleaning out the stick insects, as that can be procrastinated for a couple of weeks if needs be but probably ought not be.

But it forces a certain level of activity, means my body has to generate its own heat instead of absorbing it from a radiator, and leaves me feeling more human, so I guess that's a thing.

I can totally do this Adulting thing, look at me go...
enismirdal: (main draggy)
Today I was scheduled to lecture both in the morning and the afternoon.

Oh, did I mention that at our university, a "lecture" is normally a 3 hour session?

Finished both of them early, but am still wiped out. *keels over*
enismirdal: (erestor swan 2 (my own picture!))
This is pretty pathetic for someone who has held a full license for 4 years and owned a car for 2 years, but...driving still scares me if I'm on my own or on an unfamiliar route. I get all wound up and stressed about it beforehand and am not a happy dragon. Before today, I had never driven on a motorway on my own, despite having done it with a passenger loads of times and largely without incident.

Today, I had to go to a meeting with a collaborator. The collaborator's site is accessible by public transport, but you have to go train-bus-train, and the second train only comes once an hour. So I'd have to leave home at about 8am to be sure to arrive between 10am and 10:30am in case the connecting bus ran into traffic. Alternatively, it's about a 30 minute drive (if the traffic is good). I almost wimped out and got the slow, overpriced, but less scary public transport option...but decided to be brave. So drove all the way there, even on the motorway, then a dual carriageway, then some entirely unfamiliar roads through some villages.

It took a bit over an hour, because it turns out one of the villages is a hellish bottleneck, but I did it. It gave me extra time in bed, and when the meeting was over, it meant I was back at work a good 45 minutes earlier. It also saved money despite being awful for the planet.

While "I drove 25 miles today" isn't really something most people would be proud of, I am proud of myself today, for doing something that scared me. Now it is less scary, because it went OK and I didn't cause any accidents.

Sometimes, it's little things. But little things add up to big things and one day perhaps I'll be brave enough to do something big, like drive up north to see my dad, or take myself on a weekend away somewhere that requires going round the M25.
enismirdal: (Bee!12)
I imagine some other writery types on LJ can relate to this...

World-building is jolly good fun when you're shaping an original world - or even fleshing out one someone else made. But I've been finding lately it's very easy to get a bit carried away, especially if you have areas of personal academic interest or expertise. Unfortunately for me, a combined interest in the history of Normal People, and a job that is as much international development as it is research means I have had time to do a fair bit of musing about how a pre- or non-industrial village in a fictional fantasy pre-industrial (with or without magic) country might or might not work.

So you start with your character and their village. You decide the country will be temperate, perhaps cold end of Cfb climate, similar to the coldest and rainiest bits of the UK. Great. The character lives on the coast, in a small village. After some musing, you decide it's a limestone bedrock.

Fine, what does the village do to support itself? Well, it's coastal, so there's probably a fair bit of marine economy - fishing? OK, who goes fishing - everyone? Just the men? All the men, or just some? What do they catch - deep sea fish? Shallow water fish? Flatfish from the bottom? Do they just catch shellfish of some description? What do the women/non fisherfolk do - can they collect anything from the shore?

But people can't just live on fish, so what forms the staple diet? You've established it's pretty windswept, and limestone soil means alkaline, so anything acid-loving is out. The soils, you decide, are rubbish - along with the cold and wet climate, that probably means large-scale wheat cultivation may be tricky. So what's the main starch? Potatoes? Well, then you have to take into account that potatoes are introduced to Europe, so you're shifting the available botanical diversity and have to consider why potatoes and not quinoa/tarwi/tomatoes and so on... Maize won't grow (too cold), cassava likewise (same reason). Barley might - if your character is eating a lot of barley bread, does she cook it at home - can all the households afford a bread oven and the fuel to run it? Perhaps you should invent another sort of starchy root, like a temperate cassava, that works on poor soils?

What are they using to fuel their cooking fires? If you've got a windswept landscape and poor soils and have already decided there isn't a lot of woodland, firewood will be expensive, right? But it's alkaline soils so there won't be peat or heather to burn (indeed, Ericaceae in general probably won't be an option). Dung? Driftwood? Invent a plant that grows like heather, but on alkaline soil?

Do the people keep livestock? If so, how many, and where? If timber is expensive, what are houses made of? Where do people get cooking utensils - is there a smith or a wood-turner in the village, or must they trade? If so, what do they trade? How do they get new clothes - can they grow flax for linen? Are there are enough sheep to provide wool? Do they have access to milk, cheese, butter in any quantity? What do they eat over winter? What do they do for vitamin C? Do they drink water, small beer, tea or something else? Is anyone in the village literate?

Where else do they travel to - nearby towns? Do they have a road? Who else travels that road? Where is the next nearest village? Do they talk to the people there? Do they intermarry a lot, a little? Does the character have extended family in those other villages, or in her own village? In pre-industrial societies with large families, I guess it's pretty normal for families to be large - how far, in this one, would her parents siblings' or grandparents' siblings have moved away? How many family members would she associate with growing up - cousins? Second cousins?

...yeah, it all gets quite intense.

I'm starting to realise not all these things necessarily have to be dealt with in the text of a story. Perhaps I need to make a personal Wiki-style set of backing documents that deal with this stuff and then I can draw on it as needed where it's actually critical to the story to know whether or not they would realistically own an oak table or stuff their mattresses with heather, straw, grass or something else!
enismirdal: (Bee!14)
I've noticed a few long-term LJ friends update recently after long hiatuses (hiati?) so figured I'd do the same as I've taken the day off work.

In the last few weeks, I've added 2 new countries to me list of visited countries, which has been interesting: USA, and Malawi

USA - I think it's unfair to judge a country this large based on visiting a single city (Orlando) so I think more sampling will be necessary before I decide what I think about the USA. It's quite fun but in some ways more different to many other places I've been to (which may be a Commonwealth thing to some extent).
Pros/Cons )

Malawi - is a curious place. I'd looked at the weather in advance, so packed for dry heat (31C by day and perhaps 15C in the dead of night), but what I hadn't appreciated was how windy it gets at this time of year. There's a wind off Lake Malawi and it's constant with some minor whirlwinds. Malawi is also very dry at this time of year (it rains intensely there for 2 months in about November and December, then next to nothing for the other 10). So this means there is dust. Big time. It gets in your nose, and in your clothes, and under your clothes. Driving around, you have the choice between cooking in the vehicle and opening the windows for a nice breeze but sneezing/coughing.
Pros/Cons )

Coming back from Malawi involved one of those travel hell nightmares. There are 3 sensible routes back to the UK from Lilongwe (probably numerous daft ones too, but keeping it to routes with a single stopoff...): via Nairobi (Kenya), via Johannesburg (South Africa) or via Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). Because of when we booked, I went with Johannesburg because it seemed to be the best option for getting me home a day earlier. Fine. The plan was to fly Lilongwe-Johannesburg at lunchtime on Saturday, then pick up a flight Lilongwe-London on Saturday evening, and walk through my front door around breakfast time on Sunday. Brilliant!

And then it all went pear-shaped. )

Will try and share a few photos at some point. (Of the countries, not the experience of hanging around in an airport for 12 hours.)
enismirdal: (Bee!13)
On Friday I got an e-mail from the hamster lady saying, "You can visit on Sunday if you like? There are three hamsters that might suit you."

So we dashed down to Pets at Home on Saturday to get the last few bits and bobs (litter, some more toys, etc.) and I got a train to the hamster lady's house on Sunday morning.

There were three hamsters. A 6 month old dark golden satin female, very bold and friendly and busy. Would happily have homed her. A 12 week old chocolate satin female, with enormous Dumbo ears, still a little jumpy but friendly and sweet. Would happily have homed her too. A 6 month old cream female, friendly and active, but with a large hernia that probably won't ever cause her problems but needs watching just in case. "The fact that she's 6 months old and hasn't had any issues yet means she probably never will and whatever she dies of will probably be unrelated," said the hamster lady. Apparently while surgery is possible, the success rate is abysmal - there's so little tissue on a hamster that if you stitch one bit, another bit can tear and it just ends up awful. "She's nice but doesn't get handled as much because most people aren't interested in her," said the hamster lady.

And because I am a soft-hearted sucker, that was what decided me. Any of the hamsters would clearly be lovely pets. But the young chocolate would be snapped up within a week or two. The other mature hamster likewise shouldn't take too long to find a forever home, as she's utterly lovely. But if hernia-hamster is going to struggle to find the right owner, I will be that right owner, I decided.

So I went home with a pretty cream hamster with a reasonably large but unproblematic hernia. She settled in well, spent an hour or so exploring her new giant!cage, and then slept for the rest of the evening.

I called her Lupanine, but we call her Bob to her face.

Things Lupanine likes:
- broccoli
- raspberries
- salad burnet
- tunnels
- wheels
- new smells
- new sounds
- digging holes

Things Lupanine dislikes:
- nothing? She's not that excited by lentil and chickpea sprouts but still eats them. And she thinks hamster food is boring but OK.

Things Lupanine loves like Class A drugs and would do pretty much anything to get more of:
- sunflower seeds
If you feed her sunflower seeds she climbs all over the cage looking and begging for more and makes a complete spectacle of herself until she figures out that she's not getting any more. This is handy in helping her get more tame and settled and will later be handy if I decide to teach her entertaining tricks.

I think she is happy. So am I. She has a forever home. And I have a small furball who I will love and cuddle and call Bob.

Lupanine the hamster )
enismirdal: (Bee!14)
I was going to make my next post about Brexit. tl;dr I was angry but got less angry )

But then today I realised there was something I felt as passionately about, but the other way. I finally go around to finding the guts to call my landlord and ask permission to keep a hamster. He said yes. Very easily.

This was good, as I'd bought the cage already.

I'm aware that's sort of the wrong order, but I accepted the risk that if he said no, I'd be lumbered with a 100cm long cage and no use for it. I just...couldn't help but get excited.

So anyhoo, the Era of Eni Owning Hamsters will begin anew. CRI is not quite as enthusiastic about this plan as I am, but has generally agreed to go along with it, and if he gets sick of hamster care when I am on my frequent overseas travels, there are some pet boarding places where I can arrange care instead, so all sorted.

The cage just about fits across the back seats of my car. This is going to be the most spoiled hamster ever, is the plan. (RSPCA released new guidelines a few years ago, that minimum cage size for Syrian hamsters should be 75 x 40 x 40 cm. Now, 10 years ago you couldn't even find hamster-suitable cages in those dimensions without looking very hard. My old 50 x 40 x 30 cm cages were considered enormous. New cage is three times that size.)

Regular readers from 10 years ago may recall my penchant for giving hamsters stupid names. I now will be getting another hamster which I can give a stupid name to. Because hamsters are essentially daft miniature psychopaths who don't speak English, so really don't care if their names are stupid. So, options under consideration at present include:

  • Deltamethrin

  • Imidacloprid

  • Lupanine

  • Nyuki

  • Quercetin

This list may expand as I think of more ideas, before eventually contracting and settling on a favourite.

I now need to contact the nice people at the hamster rescue place in southeast London and organise a visit and collection. But first I need to finish accessorising the cage...

I'm 31 years old. I have a PhD, a dozen or so publications and several years' experience running research projects in developing countries. And right now I keep on physically bouncing up and down, dancing like an 8 year old, and singing loudly.
enismirdal: (main draggy)
Hey, does anyone have an up-to-date e-mail address for Erestor? I think her Facebook's been hacked and I'm hoping to let her know before the hacker does something poopy to her/friends.

Situation in hand.
enismirdal: (Bee!12)
So, the last two days have been interesting.

A local sixth form (16-18 year olds) college invited me along to help with some of their preparing-for-employment programmes. The initial e-mail was fairly vague, but as I corresponded, more details came through:
"Can you do some mock interviews with our students?"
OK.
"What dates would you prefer? And what types of students?"
Well, I'm a research scientist, so I'd prefer STEMM subjects, or Geography, or perhaps Animal Welfare at a pinch.
"Oh, we're doing the STEMM students on . If you come on the 7th and 8th we're doing the Business and Accountancy students."
Um...OK. Fine, let's go with that, as I'm given an interview script and all.

...and then the fake job description and interview script arrives for Day One, the Monday.

Childcare students.

Of all the topics under the sun, childcare probably ranks as the one I am least qualified for. I mean, I just about know what end of a toddler is the front, but it's hardly my natural inclination.

Still, I gamely went along with it, and got myself into character as the manager of a fictional new nursery. And interviewed 10 or so baby-loving young women about their fictional applications to be nursery nurses.

It was surprisingly good fun. Intense, as I actually had to listen, and I am not the best listener, but interesting. Some were confident, some were bubbly, some were nervous. One was so nervous she arrived in tears. I saw it as my job to give them the best chance to show what they were capable of, so tried to be a sympathetic interviewer who'd prompt them to try and coax out their skills and experience. Mostly it worked. One or two seemed to be quite underprepared and a bit apathetic but overall they came across as nice and passionate about childcare as a vocation. Good on them.

Day Two was the A-level students (mostly studying some combination of psychology/sociology/law/business studies/culture and communication). They'd apparently chosen the job advert for which they were fictionally applying by democratic vote, but were a bit confused about the specifics of the job description (it was oddly phrased: the advert was originally posted by a recruitment agency, who were recruiting for a headhunting firm, who specialised in recruiting legal professionals for FTSE 250 companies, and so the students hadn't quite deconstructed where the position in question fitted into all that). Still, I worked with what was there, and played along. This cohort were a year older - they'd done this before, last year, and weren't totally convinced they needed to do another interview this year. Nonetheless, all but one turned up. Most of them even dressed like they were attending an actual job interview. One, we suspect, might have forgotten the interviews were today, as she interviewed very well - enthusiastic, intelligent, animated, likeable - but was woefully, woefully underdressed (and vastly overperfumed). I felt fairly proud of myself for completing the interview with the hard-of-hearing student without him needing to ask for repeats or misunderstanding anything, so that was a communication win. Overall, you could tell today's cohort were older and more experienced, as they were more polished. But then, so was I, by that time, having interviewed around 20 people in 2 days. I got quite into the role - ambitious, dynamic headhunting firm, placing legal professionals in high profile clients' legal departments. High pressure environment, demanding clients, eye for talent, great promotion prospects. Probably a good thing it was only one morning or I'd have started to act like it was what I actually did!

I'm now in the odd position of having been in about twenty times more interviews as the interviewer than as the interviewee.

I'm glad it's over now, however, as wearing smart clothes for two days straight gets really tiresome. Though I'm going to the opera tomorrow night so should probably at least vaguely try to look respectable then too.

I really hope that none of them actually believed I was what I was pretending to be. It was too bad I couldn't do a big reveal each time. "Um, yeah, actually what I do is put tiny flies in a tube and see which way they crawl...and also chase butterflies and giant bees around bean fields in Africa*."

*Our current research project is simply way too much fun.
enismirdal: (erestor swan 2 (my own picture!))
So this week, the MPs are supposed to vote on whether the UK will start bombing Syria.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on this. Everyone seems to know what the right thing to do is. Except me. I don't know what the right thing to do is. I want to have an opinion, but I feel like I just don't understand enough.

My general feeling is that wars are bad, bombing places is horrible and anything that results in civilian casualties is bad. But I'm also aware that the country is already full of civilian casualties, and horrible, horrible things are happening. There are various groups all fighting, ranging from the horrifically bad and utterly despicable through the only moderately bad, through bad-but-at-least-not-radicalised, to apparently moderate but nonetheless committing war crimes anyway. I don't know whether starting to drop bombs on the worst will help the situation or make it worse. My gut feeling is the latter, to be honest.

I also understand that it's not logical to drop bombs on one side of a border that a lot of people are barely respecting any more, but not on the other. That's like - if you'll excuse the rather dehumanising analogy - treating half your field with lambda-cyhalothrin but not the other half.

I understand that some people elsewhere will be furious with the UK for going in and bombing, because they feel it's not the UK's place. I understand that some people elsewhere will be furious with the UK for not going in and bombing, because they feel the UK are a cause of the situation and are thus responsible for the solution.

I am so glad not to be an MP at the moment, because this is a vote where the choices people make will have awful consequences for some people, regardless of what happens, and those MPs will have to be accountable for that forever.

The only thing I do know is that in my job, if I want to spend a load of money on a project I think is important, I have to write an extensive justification of what the current situation is, what I want to do to change it, and what I intend for the outputs to be. I have to explain how I will achieve those outputs, how I will monitor whether I am achieving them, and what I want to spend money on, line item by line item - and I will not be permitted to go over-budget, but will be expected to deliver on what I promised - and how long it will take. I have to say what activities I and my colleagues will carry out, where, and when. I'm increasingly being asked to provide details of long-term impact, in a variety of dimensions, and how I will realise that. With development type projects I'm also being asked, increasingly, for an exit strategy: what will I do when the project is over and the money stops, and what will happen to the outputs of the project and the people involved after that? I have to do that if I want to spend a few tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds on a research/international development project that, even if I messed up almightily, is pretty unlikely to cause anyone to become dead.

I would damned well hope that if a leader of a country wants to spend billions on something that will make people dead and has the power to ruin or save the lives of millions more, he or she is expected to provide all of the above information and will be held accountable if there are deviations. In particular, I hope that "outputs", "impact" and "exit strategy" are especially clearly laid out.

I am not an MP. But I hope that the people voting this week are provided with a comprehensive proposal along the lines of the above, and are both given time to read it properly and actually do so, before they have to decide which people are going to die and how.

(Comments welcome, but please be polite.)
enismirdal: (erestor swan 2 (my own picture!))
I quite like poetry. I really ought to both read more and talk about it more.

Today is, as Facebook and LJ are reminding me, National Poetry Day.

My dad had me hunting for readings for his wedding recently and as a result I ended up reading quirky love poetry and things. One that I rather liked, written originally in Estonian (an awesome language, albeit invented by sadists insofar as I can tell - who the hell needs 14 cases and what even is an ulative?), is "The Higgs boson" by Jürgen Rooste.

The Higgs boson

Love is like the Higgs boson.
Many believe it exists.
There are some, who claim they have
seen or measured it.
One might suspect some of them are lying.
Or are seeing Godknowswhat.

Love is like the Higgs boson:
it should give our life's elementary particles
mass. Mass, or a point at least.
But try as we may, we'll never find it,
never point it out precisely and with certainty
before ourselves and our God: ah, look –
now here's that Higgs boson; here and in this moment
lies the sole, eternal and true love.

It's sort of like with God, it's
sort of like with life itself – one must believe,
and it holds together; it has mass and a point then.
If one doesn't believe, everything goes to pieces and
disappears back into its initial state, like a child's sand castle.

The Higgs boson and love are somewhat similar –
there will always be people who don't believe in them,
there will always be the possibility that they won't be found, won't even be measured,
which doesn't make them exist any less if we very much need
that existence.

- translated by Adam Cullen
Original Estonian (and audio) here
enismirdal: (erestor swan 2 (my own picture!))
1. Marmite- love or hate?
Indifferent
2. Marmalade- thick cut or thin cut?
The thicker the better
3. Porridge- made with milk or water?
Milk. Definitely not water.
4. Do you like salt, sugar or honey on your porridge?
Honey, or golden syrup
5. Loose tea or teabags?
Teabags. Especially if it's really nice tea that incidentally comes in teabags
45 more questions )
enismirdal: (main draggy)
I was at a conference a few months back and talking to someone (American/Greek nationality, I think) who was ruing the disconnect between people today and the source of their food. She asked a group of us how many generations removed we all are from our last family member in farming. This was an international group, and most people seemed to be 2-3 generations away. The lady who asked, having Greek family, is much closer - I think only a generation or so. Greece still has a strong culture of family smallholdings, even if that's not the main income stream.

I realised I was unaware of anyone in my family who had been a farmer in the last 100 years. Although I've had fishermen more recently, on my mother's side. Apparently that counts. I think that's probably about 3 generations (great grandparents) perhaps.

So...scientific LJ poll. To the best of your knowledge, how far away is your closest relative/ancestor in a primary industry? Farming, fishing and forestry all count, plus anything else reasonably of that ilk (not urban beekeeping, that's cheating!).
enismirdal: (Bee!14)
There was a food and drink festival being held near work this long weekend. Part of the event was dragon boat racing; my work colleagues put a team in last year, and did very well, so they decided to give it a bash again this year. So CRI popped along with the intention of staying for an hour or two, sampling some of the food at the food festival, cheering on our team, then heading home.

That wasn't what happened.

We bought ourselves reindeer burgers and settle down to watch some races. But then we noticed one of the unused dragon boats (there were 6 in total - races were between three boats, so in theory you could have three racing and three loading at any given time, keeping the turnaround quick) seemed to have a number of bees flying around it. Some were settling in a small cluster at one end. Some were flying around the other end. I knew there were a lot of spring swarms this year (our own campus bees have been running quite close to swarming recently but we've been keeping an eye on things), so wondered if a local hive was in the process of swarming.

tl;dr there were bees living in a boat )

I guess at least it makes a good anecdote - the beekeeper said it was certainly one of the stranger places he'd encountered bees!
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