Sunday, August 31, 2008

quote of yesterday

i went into work yesterday to prepare my desk and complete some paperwork. everyone was nice enough to take me out for welcome drinks and dinner and i quite enjoyed their company! at some point later in the evening, my new boss looked at me and asked:

"you're not a morning person, are you?"

excellent sign! hahaha! ;)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

welcome to nott'm

layover in dublin... nine in the morning. mmmmmmm.... guinness. this picture looks barren, but there was a surprisingly large number of people drinking guinness this early!

the place i'm staying in nottingham. i lucked out with a great hostess (not pictured)!!

she took me to a farmer's market under a simpsons sky. i've seen the full sky behind the clouds exactly twice since i've been here. i miss the stars.

longhorn? wait a minute, didnt i just leave longhorn country?

a positive side effect of the plentiful rain!

there's always a storm pending in the distance.

city center (not called "downtown")

and the shot you've all been waiting for....

more to come....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

things you know you dont know

yes, i'm still here, alive and enjoying nottingham... er, nott'm. i havent had my laptop online yet, so i'm waiting to write lots until i can also share pictures. there arent a buhzillion internet cafe around these parts, so it might have to wait until i go to work. mostly i've just been organizing, exploring, and relaxing before i officially start work on monday. i will say that the crosswords here are a bit different, and decidedly more difficult due to their subtlety. i'll keep trying though.

in the meantime, here's another gem from indexed:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

noctilucent clouds

siamak sabet captured this lovely shot of the allusive noctilucent ("night-shining") clouds, over Mt. Sabalan... an extinct volcano in iran.

these clouds exist very high in the atmosphere, nearly 90 km above earth's surface, above almost all of our atmosphere! they are not seen very often, and their existence remains a bit of a mystery. notice the distinct blue color of the clouds. the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite mission has confirmed that the particles making up the clouds are tens of nanometers in size... just the right size to scatter blue sunlight, making it uniquely visible to our eyes. but the mission also found even smaller ice crystals, which makes no sense at such an altitude since it's so dry! why and how are there clouds so high up?

to read more, here's an interesting article (and more pictures) from NASA called strange clouds at the edge of space.

Friday, August 22, 2008

where can i buy a raincoat?

hello from rainy england! i've arrived, safe and sound. it has rained everyday, providing a wonderful atmosphere for napping and trying to get over my jetlag. unfortunately, i dont have proper raingear, so as soon as i venture out of the house on a shopping trip, i'll be buying myself a raincoat and maybe some shoes.

today is my new boss's birthday, so i'll make it out tonight to (hopefully) meet him somewhere in town. time to explore the pubs!!

the lovely woman i'm staying with politely corrects my pronunciation... usually i don't emphasize the letter "t" in the right places. and yesterday i innocently tried to get in her car on the drivers side - much to our amusement! i wonder how long it will take me to get used to cars zooming past on the right side?

today begins the adventure of finding my own place to live, figuring out what phone companies are the best, and what banks exist here... and also watching olympic sports that they don't show on the US channels i was watching.

why do they kneel?

also, can anyone tell me how football (soccer) teams qualify for the olympics?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

to go, please!

a disadvantage of my new job, is that they are paying no relocation fees! bug dud! so my mission was to reduce and efficiently pack my load of possessions:

after much procrastination and then effort, it's finished!

that's it. two boxes were mailed home, the plastic containers and little boxes were mailed to england (come on US postal service, make it work!), and the colorful items come with me on the plane.

i spent a lot of time yesterday fashioning that big box from a refrigerator box, to send some artwork in:

but it was too big to ship for any reasonable price :( so i had to perform surgery on the poor painting and now it's all rolled up with the other paintings in the tube. sorry, shay... but i had to do it!

thanks to cindy and jeff cook for giving me a great place to stay this last week and a half in austin. i'll miss you all, but not so much the heat of texas!


liver training

the advice has been pouring in these last few days, for both things to do before i leave and once i arrive...

before i leave texas:
eat mexican food (esp. breakfast tacos)
drink root beer
drink margaritas
soak up the heat

after i arrive in england:
buy rain suit
carry pullover at all times
drink beer
eat indian food

hhmmmm. sounds like i have my work cut out for me ;)
anything else?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

we are stardust, billion year old carbon.

on this, the weekend that the world experienced woodstock 39 years ago, i'd like to appreciate a woman who didn't get to go: joni mitchell. as she describes at the beginning of the video below, she stayed back in new york city because her manager thought it more advantageous to appear on a TV show instead. as soon as i heard that story, i felt that she probably regretted that choice the moment it was made. she immediately wrote the song "woodstock" for her friends (a young CS&N) to commemorate the event. most will recognize the more familiar version of woodstock performed by crosby, stills, nash, & young, recorded a few years later. i honestly have no idea how their version came about from the original song. joni mitchell's solo piano version is as haunting as it is hopeful....

i find it unfortunate that there have not been recent pop singers in the soprano range. joni mitchell's soprano sound is naked and gorgeous because she allows her natural vibrato to enhance the melody. i'm easily annoyed by the endless mariah carey-type quick note-hopping at the ends of phrases and carried notes. dont get me wrong, total props to mariah for introducing this sound and performing it incredibly well, it's just that too many damn pop stars are imitating it these days, and not very well!

i've enjoyed listening to joni mature as a singer, because her voice has changed over the years. her voice has grown deeper with time, as i feel mine has too. i'm not the soprano i used to be!

so as i pack today for the big move tuesday, i know who i'll be listening to!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

baltimore - welcome to birdland

amazingly, four former UT astronomers, three of whom were in my class, are now living and working in baltimore, maryland (or did they call it birdtown? birdville?).

i stayed with former officemate, shay and her husband. first, we explored the neighborhood.

then we hopped a train to DC, where it rained on us...

... so we drank tea and watched the rain fall down.

(left to right) kit, shay, erin, damon , jeff, and i all went to dinner.

erin and shay both entered grad school with me, graduated with PhDs and decided the direct academic route was not for them. they seem extremely happy doing research at the johns hopkins applied physics lab. they cant tell me the details of what they're doing, but they're making twice as much money as i'll be making... d'oh!! ;)

now open, but closed.

from left to right here: claudia, shay, kit, marty, and the adorably pregnant lissa.

claudia and marty have stuck with academics and both are excited with their postdocs!

ice. custard. happiness. bring it on!

excellent to see everyone in such good spirits! i hope my move goes half as well as your alls (how's that for texas grammar?).

Friday, August 15, 2008

doctor of astrophysiology?

without a doubt, the best graduation present i received is a handmade creation from my aunt - my godmother - the one who inspired my interest to travel - the woman i've looked up to my entire life. the week before my ohio graduation party, we talked on the phone for a couple hours and she told me she was making me a present, but i had no idea how awesome it would be!! just look for yourself...

she painted the galaxy and the background, then attached everything else. the tent flaps are attached with velcro and open to reveal a detailed backpack! interactive art! she gave me this present at the party, where i felt completely amazed and thrilled!

there's a strand of beads dangling from the top that reads:

"dr amanda bauer phd astrophysiology"

i said... huh? what? oh, no! haha!!!

see, my aunt is a wonderful writer and an english teacher, and we've always laughed and teased each other about the imperfections of our lives.

she looked surprised and asked "what, i didnt spell it wrong, did i? i looked it up in the dictionary!"

i asked, "what did it say astrophysiology means??"

"oh, i don't know, i didn't read that far!"

hilarious! the english teacher. an instant joke forever and ever! if anyone can give me a good definition of astrophysiology that doesnt already exist under some other common title, please let me know, i'm interested.

many, many people erroneously call me an astrologer... a mistake i happily correct, remembering the day long ago when i made myself remember, "astronomy is the science. astrology is not."

sometimes clever people jokingly ask me about the progress of my cosmetology degree. i recommend this humorous post at on cosmology for cosmetologists, if you have the time.

during that conversation on the phone with my aunt, she referred to my "astrophysics" degree twice, and then near the end she mentioned my study of "astrophysiology." i was quietly amused because no one had ever called me that before! i just let it slide thinking, "she got it right twice, she knows what she's talking about!"

silly doctor. assumptions are for amateurs.

this painting will definitely be hanging in my office at my new job! i love it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

jupiter in august 2008

in addition to the august 2008 sky views i mentioned earlier this month, here's another "what's up" video from JPL to help guide your eye towards the skies! watch to hear all about jupiter, currently the brightest object in the night sky (other than the lit up moon).

jupiter is high in the south-east skies these days, and has been shining brightly next to the moon for the past couple nights.

anyone see the perseids last night? i was clouded out... and i'm not even in england yet! hmph!

signs in germany

i miss living in munich. i felt like i really fit in there!

and this sticker on my desk always made me laugh!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

size of the entire universe man

thanks for the "small world" stories shared in the comments of the little boxes post! they reminded me of another little ditty with just as much intrigue... particle man, by they might be giants! it's also a fantastic stand-by karaoke song. here's the video version from the tiny toons animated series.

Particle Man

Particle man, particle man
Doing the things a particle can
What's he like? It's not important
Particle man

Is he a dot, or is he a speck?
When he's underwater does he get wet?
Or does the water get him instead?
Nobody knows, Particle man

Triangle man, Triangle man
Triangle man hates particle man
They have a fight, Triangle wins
Triangle man

Universe man, Universe man
Size of the entire universe man
Usually kind to smaller man
Universe man

He's got a watch with a minute hand,
Millenium hand and an eon hand
When they meet it's a happy land
Powerful man, universe man

Person man, person man
Hit on the head with a frying pan
Lives his life in a garbage can
Person man

Is he depressed or is he a mess?
Does he feel totally worthless?
Who came up with person man?
Degraded man, person man

Triangle man, triangle man
Triangle man hates person man
They have a fight, triangle wins
Triangle man

and here they are at TED: ideas worth sharing.

presidential shudders

i'm so disappointed that there are multiple pictures of the current president of the united states that make me so uncomfortable, i shudder. this occured at the olympics this week.

i know photographers try to snap photos at moments of blunder, but...

he also attempted to give the german chancellor, merkel, a backrub at the G8 summit in 2006, which resulted in these shots:


by the way, did you hear the one where the US president left the G8 summit meeting by saying "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter!" ?

yeah, that really happened. in poor taste, mr. president.

Monday, August 11, 2008

that reading stuff is out of sight!

not something you see everyday... unfortunately. morgan freeman rocking out in the mid-70's children's program, the electric company. just call him easy reader!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

little boxes all the same

i've liked this song for a long time!! little boxes, written by malvina reynolds, here performed by pete seeger:


Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes, little boxes
Little boxes all the same

There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same

And the people in the houses all went to the university
Where they all were put in boxes, little boxes all the same
And there's doctors and there's lawyers and business executives
And they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same

And they all play on the golf course and drink their martini dry
And they all have pretty children and the children go to school
And the children go to summer camp and then to the university
Where they all got put in boxes, and they all came out the same

And the boys go into business and marry and raise a family
In boxes, little boxes, little boxes all the same
There's a green one, and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same

beijing 2008 olympic grounds in google earth 3D

welcome to the 2008 olympic games!

the universe today has a great post relating how various materials developed for space science are now being used in the 2008 olympics, by both athletes and organizers!

here's a video showing the olympic buildings from google earth 3D, showing where the buildings are around beijing.

the medals awarded this year to the winning athletes by the chinese, are unique in that they are all embedded with jade!

here's an image from interesting photo essay describing how the 2008 olympic medals are made:

i also like the pictographs for the 2008 beijing olympics. the theme of "the beauty of the seal" from the chine central academy of fine arts, was selected the winner of the competition to design the seals. the symbols are based on "the strokes used for seals, which were widely used in inscriptions on bones and bronze vessels in ancient China some 3,000 years ago."

have fun athletes!

Friday, August 8, 2008

resident alien

i just took a test called how british are you, created by rewboss. well, i got about 3 out of 13... maybe 4. care to guess which ones? i'll try this out again in several months and see if some of them make any more sense!

slow motion lightning

this is awesome. i've never seen lightning like this... i've only imagined! anyone know more about who took the video?

found at buzzfeed

solar eclipse 2008 photo

this great image from catalin beldea at astro foto, combines two shots of the total solar eclipse last week: one from the very beginning and one from the very end. also, check out the homepage of i really enjoy the photo collage!

found on APOD yesterday.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

night sky august 2008

this month provides many nice planetary alignments and the perseids meteor shower: usually the best of the year!

five planets will be visible with the naked eye this month: mercury, venus, mars, jupiter, and saturn!! starting on august 11th, we'll be able to see mercury, venus, and saturn approaching each other low on the western horizon. they'll be challenging to see since they are settling early with the sun, but all the planets are bright so they should be spottable... venus will be the brightest at magnitude -3.9, the mercury at -0.6 and saturn will be the faintest of the three at 0.8. mars hangs above the trio and jupiter shines brightly in the southern sky (see full night sky maps here).

august 13th provides a closeness between venus and saturn of less than a degree in the sky. if you hold out your arm at full length, your pointing index finger (one degree across) will easily block both planets! also on this night, the bright planet jupiter in the south will be 3 degrees north of the moon!

on august 16th, there will be a partial lunar eclipse visible from much of the world, best in africa and europe. since we just saw such a brilliant total solar eclipse due to the tight alignment of the sun, the moon, and the earth as the moon passed between the larger orbs, it's not surprising that the three are still aligned so tightly as the moon swings around the opposite side of the earth and passes thru our shadow!

after mid-august, saturn sinks in the sky each night, while mercury and venus rise higher. venus will shine brightly after sunset for the rest of the year, returning to its status as the "evening star." on august 20th, mercury and venus will be less than a degree apart, and both very bright!

the perseids meteor shower occurs between august 11-13th this year, peaking before dawn on august 12th for north american viewers. look below the sideways "W" of cassiopeia in the northeast to find the direction from which all the meteors will be shooting across the sky: the radiant. in reality, if you stand outside under the dark sky for a little while, you'll most likely see one bright streak or more overhead per minute after the gibbous moon sets at 1:30 am EDT.


mathematician joke

just to forewarn you, this is a raunchy little joke i recently heard from a mathematician...

what did the constipated mathematician do?

he sharpened his pencil and worked it out!

read previous non-vulgar nerd jokes here and here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

herb identification's not as easy as it smells.

how many different types can you identify in this bunch?

nina simone

sing like it is, lady - with your perfect style!

and in honor of ms. simone, here's a cover of her classic, be my husband, by my brightest diamond.

london bananas

have you noticed as many banana peels in london as the founder of london bananas has? if so, send pictures so we can all enjoy this strange phenomenon!

i hope to soon contribute to this unusual project ;)

total solar eclipse from a plane!

share the enjoyment of these folks that viewed last friday's total solar eclipse from a plane over the canadian arctic at 27,000 ft above the earth's surface!

found at live leak via neatorama

Saturday, August 2, 2008

what they did conversation

this is a useful bit of strategic insight from ill doctrine video blogger, jay smooth. in three minutes he enlightens us on the crucial difference between having the “what they did conversation” and the “what they are conversation.”

this life

seen in yellow springs, ohio.

carnival of space - #65

this week's carnival of space is up at 21st century waves! enjoy the space writing of the blogiverse!

Friday, August 1, 2008

she's leaving home. bye, bye.

after a month-long stay in ohio, i'm leaving today! it has been wonderful to spend so much time with my family and old friends. i'm amazed that this emotionally challenging visit leaves me feeling rejuvenated as well! thank you family for welcoming me so warmly and sending me off so well!

i also wanted to thank all the readers of this blog for sharing your enthusiasm and giving me such interesting feedback! i really enjoy talking about science, astronomy, life, the universe, and everything, and it's fantastic when people respond to what i'm throwing out into the vast blogiverse!

my adventures continue with a weekend trip to baltimore, a long stop in charlotte, and then a finale stopover in austin, before heading east...

here are a couple energetic versions of my favorite cat stevens songs to enjoy as i continue my journey.

as a side note: when i play/sing "the wind" (the first song), i change the line "where i'll end up only god really knows," to "where i'll end up, only time really knows." it suits me better.