nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
( Mar. 18th, 2014 09:59 pm)
I felt the urge to rewrite my introduction so I thought I’d use it as a starting point for a Subscription Meme, as I haven’t seen one going around for a while.

I’ve made a template, which I’ve filled out very wordily below. Please feel free to adapt it to your wishes, and please link this post wherever you like. (Please participate or share? I'm going to feel very sad if this entry sits here alone with 0 comments...)

Subscription Meme template:
<b>People in this journal</b>
<b>About my job</b>
<b>Some random facts</b>
<b>Things I like to do</b>
<b>Social media usage</b>
<b>>Subscriptions, access and commenting</b>
<b>What I’d like to get from my participation here</b>

My responses! )
nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
( Nov. 26th, 2014 08:12 am)
Humuhumu, the bloke and I are at the table, finishing off breakfast. Humuhumu slips off to the sitting room. Suspicious noises are heard.

Me: "Baby, what are you doing?"
More noises
Bloke: "Pops, on a scale of one to ten, how naughty are you being?"
Brief silence
Humuhumu: "Six!"


Phone conversation, early morning of the second of my work days in London.

Me: "Oh, you're off early!"
Bloke: "Of course. We run a tighter ship when the Mama is away."
Me: "Oh really. What did you two have for breakfast this morning?"
Bloke: "....crumpets and mince pies."
This morning, I received an e-mail from a restaurant about a "Christmas Bokking", prompting visions of my fellow lab denizens and myself turning up for our meal dressed as chickens.

Later, someone on my telecon uttered the following words in all seriousness: "So wait, is this the problem we were having with time going backward?"

Poll #16170 Chickens v Time
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 41

Which is better?

View Answers

Christmas bokking
17 (41.5%)

Time going backward
24 (58.5%)




nanila: (manning: uberbitch)
( Nov. 9th, 2014 08:06 pm)
A thing happened recently that I didn't feel comfortable addressing directly with the person involved, so it's turned into a journal post.

Someone felt the need to go on a diatribe to me about how it's a travesty that Americans continue to celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday built on what can mildly be described as false premises.

Every year I post a picture to Facebook of Wednesday Addams holding a match and delivering the following speech about Thanksgiving.

You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides. You will play golf, and enjoy hot hors d'oeuvres. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They have said, "Do not trust the Pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller."...And for all these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.

Despite this, every year, I make an effort to celebrate Thanksgiving. Since I've had the space to do so, I've invited as many people as I can cater for to my home and fed them, at the very least, on pumpkin pie and wine. Because I also believe that despite its hugely problematic origins, the saccharine mythology of which continues to be propagated in American schools, it is possibly one of the nicest American traditions in the way it is actually practiced. I have on many occasions not been able to be with my own family on Thanksgiving, including the entirety of the last decade. Yet because of the generosity of friends, colleagues and casual acquaintances, I have never felt alone or unloved on this holiday. When most Americans hear that you haven't got anywhere to be on Thanksgiving, they will immediately invite you to their own celebration, even if they don't know you well, and the invitation will be sincere. You don't have to take it if you don't want to. But the option is always there - to be fed a nice meal, in company of people in good spirits, which in my world is one of the best things you can ever do for others.

I know the origin stories of America, especially as taught to young Americans, are full of inconsistencies and glaring omissions. I know that Americans have, to put it mildly, not always behaved well as colonists. If I were to get romantic about it, I could argue that I embody the conflict between colonial and colonised interests from the cultural right down to the genetic level, given my parents' national and racial origins.

I also know that in choosing to become British, I have taken on the mantle of possibly the most notorious of the modern colonialist oppressors. And I know that in choosing to emigrate permanently, I have given up on participation in a large portion of the culture I was brought up in. I spend 99% of my time immersed in British culture. My partner is British. My children will grow up predominantly British.

So. I get angry when someone feels the need to tell me that, of the 1% of my time that I choose deliberately to celebrate something that is American, I shouldn't be doing it. Perhaps, O White English Person, the next time you feel the need to dress someone down for clinging to a tiny portion of the culture in which they grew up, you should consider that you are possibly not the most appropriate mouthpiece of justice.
Poll #16119 Space mission publicity
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 38

I have heard of the following missions independently from your journal.

View Answers

Cassini-Huygens (NASA-ESA mission: spacecraft currently in orbit around Saturn)
29 (85.3%)

JUICE (ESA mission: future spacecraft, to orbit Jupiter and the Galilean moons)
9 (26.5%)

Cluster (ESA mission: set of 4 spacecraft currently studying Earth's space plasma environment)
9 (26.5%)

Rosetta (ESA mission: spacecraft orbiting a comet, soon to release a lander)
29 (85.3%)

I would not have heard about these missions if I didn't read your journal.

View Answers

Cassini-Huygens (NASA-ESA mission: spacecraft currently in orbit around Saturn)
8 (25.8%)

JUICE (ESA mission: future spacecraft, to orbit Jupiter and the Galilean moons)
26 (83.9%)

Cluster (ESA mission: set of 4 spacecraft currently studying Earth's space plasma environment)
25 (80.6%)

Rosetta (ESA mission: spacecraft orbiting a comet, soon to release a lander)
7 (22.6%)

I keep up with space science news through various media channels.

View Answers

Yes, pretty regularly
12 (32.4%)

Only when it hits the headlines
25 (67.6%)

It's not really my thing
0 (0.0%)

nanila: (tachikoma: celebratory)
( Nov. 3rd, 2014 07:25 pm)
My boss has been awarded a Royal Society Research Professorship!

The blurb for the fellowship says: "This scheme is for world-class scientists who would benefit from a period of long-term support to allow them to focus on research and collaboration based at an institution in the UK." Appointments are made for up to ten years (usually the full amount).

And my boss said:
“I am very excited to have been awarded a Royal Society Research Professorship,” said Professor Dougherty. “It will enable me to focus on the fantastic science which my instrument onboard Cassini will produce during the final 3 years of orbit around Saturn, as well as plan the instrument design and science we will do with the JUICE mission to orbit Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon.”


[PS Her appointment brings the grand total of female persons currently holding an RS Research Professorship to three (out of 17).]
nanila: Will not be surviving the zombie apocalypse (me: braaains)
( Oct. 31st, 2014 09:18 am)
Happy Halloween! This is still one of my all-time favourite self-portraits (taken in 2010).

[Image of me dressed in white, crouched on a chair with my hands behind my back.]

I've put the animated GIF version (which is much creepier and also, y'know, animated) behind the cut.
nanila: (kusanagi: amused)
( Oct. 28th, 2014 05:32 pm)

[YouTube video, 26 seconds, of Humuhumu playing with her electronic keyboard]

I want to write a big long birthday post for Humuhumu but it's on hold until this work week is over. In the meantime, have a short video of her treating her parents to a serenade with the microphone using her new electronic keyboard. Her rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" is...special. The last second of this video sends me into paroxysms of laughter every time.
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
( Oct. 20th, 2014 12:14 pm)
After returning from Germany reasonably early on Friday, it wasn’t too difficult to muster the energy to journey to Oxfordshire for a visit to the Ai Weiwei sculpture exhibition at (Unesco World Heritage Site) Blenheim Palace.

Blenheim isn’t a National Trust or English Heritage property, so we don’t have memberships that cover it. It’s also an eye-watering £22.50 per adult for a day admission. However, once you’ve paid it, you can convert this to an annual membership and come back any time you like for the subsequent year. Since Humuhumu had a lot of energy to run off by the time we got there (it’s over an hour’s drive from home) and we didn’t get to spend any time indoors, we’re determined to go again in a couple of weeks to at least attempt to see the sculptures that are housed inside the Palace.

It was a blowy, blustery day and Humuhumu loved dashing around the majestic grounds, helping us to hunt down the sculptures. The symmetrical shiny blue-purple stones were the hands-down favourites.

[Image of Humuhumu running through one of Ai Weiwei's sculptures at Blenheim Palace.]

More words and pictures )

Hours of fresh air and exercise tired everyone out, so I’m afraid poor Bloke had to drive home with only the dulcet tones of Radio 4 playing “Under Milk Wood” by Dylan Thomas* to drown out the snorkeling of his passengers.

* NB: I do not recommend listening to this whilst dozing unless you enjoy having very strange dreams.

The next day everyone had a lie-in, even Humuhumu, who slept until almost 8 AM. (Note to Daughter: More Sundays like this please.) Once we were up, we went to the garden centre to get wallflowers and pansies to plant in our front pots, as the geraniums were beginning to flag in the cooler weather. We are once again keeping up appearances in our village, to the relief of the neighbours, I'm sure.

In the afternoon, we headed to the Avoncroft Museum nearby for Trebuchet and Cannon Reenactment Day. We texted some other parents on the off-chance that they were at loose ends for Sunday activities, and to our immense surprise, everyone turned up. Humuhumu was delighted at the company. The four-year-old girl pretty much adopted Humuhumu, and cried when her Daddy tried to take her away before she could give her a goodbye cuddle and kiss.

The other children didn’t much care for the noisy cannon demonstrations, but Humuhumu’s response to every firing was a passionate demand for “MORE BANG!” and “Nani do it!” Oh dear.

Also filed under Oh Dear: Humuhumu has got quite a strong Brummie accent at the moment. Here is an attempt to record her pronunciation of a few words/phrases. I need to get some video of this for posterity before she loses it, which she very probably will when she’s older. She doesn’t hear any Brummie at home or from our friends and relations.

Bye Bye = “Buh Boy”
Like a diamond in the sky = “Loik a doymund in da skoy”
Bus = “Booss”
Daddy = “Dah-doy”

[Humuhumu and Dada at the trebuchet & cannon-firing display at the Avoncroft Museum. She’s in the middle of a request for “MORE BANG” here.]

I've spent the last few days at a meeting in the new Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Goettingen, Germany. The building itself is pretty impressive, particularly the entrance hall, and the Philae lander model merited a selfie.

Details. )

One additional awesome thing about the new Institute: There's a full-time creche (daycare) inside the building. Not just on the University campus. In the building. And the Institute's on-site library includes a children's section. Apparently there are a lot of female scientists who, when the Institute moved from its old site in Lindau, suddenly decided it was time to start a family. Interesting, no? <dry>