Monday, April 30, 2007


the best thing to come out of ohio in a long long time (except for me of course... hee hee) is dennis kucinich!

not only has he passed a resolution to impeach big dick cheney, but i also agree with a lot of what he says in this interview.

go dennis! woo hoo!

cerro grande!

yesterday i explored a main feature of La Serena... by bike. inland from the city lies a looming, steep, tall hill appropriately named cerro grande ("big hill").

en route....
rachel and the path up. i'll admit that i was pretty intimidated at this point, especially considering how difficult it was to gain any traction on the rocky dirt trail. i'd never done such an up hill climb on bike before. at this point we'd been riding for 30 minutes and i was already a bit fatigued.
nice view of the valley from pretty close to the top.

woohoo! we made it... just in time for lunch! :)

it was a sunny, yet hazy day. on a clear day you could see La Serena in the foreground, the beaches and all the way across the bay to coquimbo before losing a sense of distance to the vast horizon of ocean.
all geared up and ready to head back down.
the downhill was actually pretty scary. for some reason i had a very bad feeling.... but i managed to only skid once and we all arrived at the bottom safely... and quickly... without any falls or injuries!

Friday, April 27, 2007


one day i really hope to experience weightlessness. the zero gravity corp. is now making this possible for thousands of people... if theyre willing to pay $3,750! the zero-g corp. flies its passengers up to 32,000ft and performs the "parobolic flight" maneuver where they tip the nose up at a 45 degree angle then follow a parabolic trajectory up and over the curve... like a roller coaster without the wind or the harness... or that feeling you get in your stomach as youre driving over the little bumps on a country road. You're not achieving complete weightlessness in such a case, but you can definitely feel yourself lightening as your stomach "rises" (by the way, these country road bumps are way more common in ohio than they are in texas). the plane falls for about 30 seconds while all the passengers experience weightlessness... blocked from the forces of the wind thanks to the body of the plane.

stephen hawking, who has been in a wheel chair for almost 40 years due to lou gehrig's disease, just got to experience this feeling. i wanted to share this picture because i think it's super cute! i'm glad he could experience such a thing... and i hope that one day i do too!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

to the moon!

NASA has been getting a lot of bad press lately, which i wont remind you of here, but i finally found something positive (thanks to the bad astronomer)! we're going back to the moon!

here is a cool animation from NASA about the constellation program trip to the moon:

if you have patience... load the high resolution version.

i'm pro-choice.

i thought i'd be less than subtle with the title of this blog, especially after the recent supreme court decision to ban abortion in the second trimester.

i share with you now a very personal account of how this decision affects the health of women: disgusted beyong belief... my views on abortion.... a must-read in my opinion.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

i like trees. let's keep 'em!

so much for the top leaders of the US representing the american people. karl rove, george bush and dick cheney are such bastards in my mind. they act like big, defensive bullies that are ridiculously set in their ways. yesterday was earth day, but here's an article where rove gets defensive and dismissive with sheryl crow on the topic of global warming. why?

on a more positive note... here's an article where bill maher reminds us why we should treat every day like earth day! the earth is our home, the only home any human has every known, it provides food.... and it will until we destroy it.

Monday, April 23, 2007


this group produced little snippet documentaries about 6 homeless people from 6 different cities around the world.... really interesting... homeless

Sunday, April 22, 2007

up, up, down, down, left, right...

if you know what the heck that means, then you played the nintendo game contra many many years ago! i spent many many hours playing this one. when you first turn the game on, you press a series of buttons... up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, etc (cant remember the rest).... and you get special weapons abilities... or something like that.

i just found this painting by david chung that i really liked....

then i looked for more of his stuff and realized this painting is contra-inspired and titled "up, up, down, down, left, right... WHAAAAA!!" cool stuff.

Friday, April 20, 2007

venus moon conjunction tonight!

tonight as the sky darkens, a bright and brilliant venus will shine to the upper left of waxing crescent, sliver moon. and if that wasnt enough.... the pleiades cluster (or the teeny tiny blue dipper, as i like to think of it) will be to the moon's lower right!

APOD link


Thursday, April 19, 2007


i've bought many things on ebay... many years ago i bought my first digital camera from ebay and was very happy to get an extra large memory card for the same retail price. i recently bought another camera (canon powershot SD800) from ebay because it was the same price, and they also threw in a 4GB memory card (thats huge!!!), a case, an extra battery and a few other goodies. i've excitedly anticipated my new camera's arrival. as a good friend said upon hearing my old one was stolen:
i send my condolences. that thing was pretty much your best friend.
hahaha! ... so you understand my level of excitement!!

well... it arrived today!!! i opened the box and noticed that there were no instructions... oh well, i thought, i've had a few canon cameras, so i know their format and how they work. i charged up the battery while i made dinner... a yummy chilean cazuela. after dinner, i put the charged battery in the camera along with my gigantic memory card and powered it up for the first time! as i set the date, i noticed that all the writing was in chinese... uh... huh? oh no! i couldnt understand anything! nothing. nada! crap!!!

i laughed at myself for never thinking of this possibility, and then got really pissed because i couldnt figure out *if* i could change the language setting... because it was all in freaking chinese! aaaahhhhhh!

not too worry, thanks to the majesty of the internet, i was able to compare the online screen shots of the menu to my new toy in order to figure out just what the word "language" looks like in chinese.

whew. that scared me for a while! but i got a lot of good laughs out of the situation anyway.

by the way... in other countries, the canon SD800 is called canon IXY900IS...?? just fyi!

freedom obssessed?

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Federal Abortion Ban...

i think this is completely a partisan ban based on anti-choice politics. this is not acceptable when it "fails to protect a woman's health".

there goes yet another choice provided by the freedom-loving and freedom-enforcing US government.

it doesnt really have anything to do with the abortion issue, but i'm curious what you all think of this article that i linked to above discussing the american condition of freedom-obsession. i dont agree with everything the british author concludes about america's intentions in the middle east... because i think i make a stronger distinction between the "administration" and "america".

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

mr vonnegut

my favorite vonnegut polemic: cold turkey. i've read it many many times since he wrote it in 2004.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

nipple fountain

you might recall my east for easter adventure. you dont have to wait in suspense any longer.... here are our actual photos!

here's me in from of the bauer tower of power! (not to mislead you, this photo was actually taken on a different day, but its the only one of me and the tower)

here's the compound near the laguna. notice the innocent-looking fountain in the center. its not until you really look at it that you notice... drumroll please....

the nipple fountain in all its "glory".

the little boy that lived on the compound.

me, excited to watch the sunset on the argentinian mountains while eating my empanada.

i bought a new camera and it should be here tomorrow!!! cant wait!!

ten commandments?

this is one of my favorite colbert clips. he interviews georgia congressman westmoreland who cosponsored a bill requiring the 10 commandments to be displayed in the house of representatives and the senate. i was surprised by his response when asked to recite the ten commandments....

my advice: if you are *for* an issue, especially if you are a congressman (!!!!), be sure you are at least slightly knowledgeable about the topic you are trying to impose on others!

(and please dont forget that little thing called separation of church and state.)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

let's go east!

marcel is currently in the US so i'm borrowing his car! i feel a strange sense of freedom combined with laziness being able to drive a car anywhere. the first day i had the car, i took a few other carless astronomers to the store in town and we bought all the big things that are a regular pain to carry home. then rachel and i discussed taking a day trip on sunday... we decided: "let's go east!"

the trip turned out to be a lot fun and full of random adventures, eventhough it was easter sunday in this very catholic country! we passed thru a small town, vicuna, just beyond where the turn off is to the observatory. the main road passed right thru the town, but after i saw a tower a few blocks away, i decided to turn off the main road... we found the town square and discovered, to our delight, that they were having a little festival! we got out to walk around, shopped a little and listened to a band. we were pleasantly surprised that anything was open on easter, but the place was really hopping! vicuna is the birthplace of gabriel mistral... a famous writer with her picture on the 2000 peso bill. the guy introducing the band didnt even mention easter, he just mentioned her and the firefighters who were being honored. i thought that was strange... but even stranger is the fact that when i just googled "vicuna" i discovered the tower is actually called the bauer tower! cool!

onward.... we continued driving east thru the elqui valley. its a narrow valley with grape orchards running right up along the road, surrounded by rocky, colorful and steep mountains! i wonder what minerals are present in the surface layers of the rock to create such distinct sections of color!

eventally we found ourselves driving next to a bright green river. it looked so refreshing on the warm sunny day, that we decided to pull off the road and go for a swim! nothing is more refreshing than a skinny dip in a freezing cold river in the middle of a desert! it was a lot of fun!

after drying off in the sun like a couple lizards, we set off again. the two lane paved road abruptly ended and we continued along a dirt road, meandering thru the valley next to the now blue river. at this point we thought... why not go to argentina? the last chilean town on the map was juntas. we kept driving and wondered how far it was. i knew only knew we were climbing in altitude because my ears kept popping.

we finally reached a building, which turned out to be the entry/exit point for chile and made up the entirety of the "town" of juntas. we pulled up, got out of the car, showed the guy our passports and said that we just wanted to cross the border to walk around the first town in argentina. this seemed to go over alright for a few minutes, but then the second man we talked to demanded to look at all the paperwork for the car. we agreed that the car didnt belong to us, it was marcel's... and therefore, he said, we were not allowed to take it across the border unless we had a written note from marcel giving us permission, by name. damn damn! note to self, next time get a note to drive to argentina. check.

the man proceded to tell us of a "laguna" that was about 30 km up the road. we could drive to see it before reaching to the official border if we wanted. sounded good to us, so off we went!

the border was still another 80 km up the road. we drove the 30km along the twisty dirt road, only passing one car the whole time... and an empty truck parked at a farm with at least 50 goats hanging around unattended. we eventually saw a sign for la laguna and turned off the main road onto a steep little dirt driveway. we had to pass thru a gate with a sign saying "recinto privado". we thought this was a bit weird, but kept going. when we reached the end of the driveway, we realized that we were at the river at the bottom of the laguna... after we noticed the big rock dam! oops.

there was a small compound of houses on the river with men walking around outside, so we decided to ask. there were 5 or so rugged looking men, a little ~2 year old boy, a ton of friendly dogs and a mule. they all sort of gawked at us gringas as they told us that they were the keepers of the dam. they stayed there all winter, sometimes having to dig their way out of the houses thru the snow, in order to maintain the dam. they lived in this really simple set of ranch style homes that surrounded a single fountain. my mind drifted away from the conversation since i couldnt really understand all the spanish. my eyes noticed the details of the compound, the man pushing the mule out of the way as it encroached upon the conversation, the little boy shyly running in and out of a doorway, the fountain.... the fountain consisted of rocks stacked up in the center of the little pool and on top of the rocks was a big barbie-type doll... naked... with her hands reaching up into her curly blond hair, and water coming out of her nipples!! aaaahhhhh! i couldnt believe it! i laughed to myself as i wondered how long it had been there!

just then, rachel started walking away toward the door where the little boy was standing. i realized the man must have invited us in. i was a bit nervous about this move, but my curiosity quickly won! he invited us in to see pictures of the winter snow. there are feet and feet and feet of snow in the valley in the winter.... like a glacier coming down the valley! amazing that they survive the snow, the cold and the 6300 foot elevation without leaving for months!! next to the snow pictures was a pretty explicit girly calendar... not entirely unexpected i guess, but i really had to resist the little laugh i felt in my throat!

we thanked them for their stories and kindness, and continued up the road toward la laguna. when we found the gigantic body of water, we pulled over, ate the yummy empanadas we brought with us, and watched the beginning of the sunset on the water and the peaks of argentina...

after a little while we decided that we felt satisfied with our adventure and turned around to go home. we stopped in vicuna again for a yummy dinner of soup, salmon and cold vegetables. always in chile they serve some sort of grilled meat, chicken or fish with cold veggies like tomatoes, avocados and palm hearts. we arrived home around 10 pm, happy and exhausted!

UPDATE: nipple fountain pictures!!

global warming ate my homework

evolution... simpsons style:

jugo surprise!

living in another country provides endless entertainment. the most simple things often present surprising results. like today, i opened some orange juice that i bought yesterday and jumped with surprise when i poured into my glass a creamy-colored liquid with an orange tint!!

during our long flight to chile, marcel warned me about the "juice". i thought this was a curious quirk to highlight, but i listened with intrigue. he told me to be careful of the orange juice ("jugo de naranja") because oftentimes it is actually "nectar de naranja". nectar de naranja is a highly sweetened drink that happens to be orange. it doesnt really taste like orange juice, in my opinion it tastes like tangy sugar water. you can find actual jugo de naranja in stores, but its more expensive and you have to really look for it. i was craving real orange juice, so i spent time looking for it at the store yesterday.

amid the aisle of nectars, i found one box called "so natural naranja" that looked promising and since i couldnt find any jugo, i bought it. foiled again! the creamy liquid that i bought (think melted orange creamsicle) tastes alright, but i wouldnt call it orange juice. next time i'll have to make sure i see the word "jugo" on the packaging!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

i'm your moon

i found another great ballad-style cover song so i thought i'd share it with you too (thanks to cadydidwhat for the find). this is a live performance by jonathan coulton covering "baby got back"!

i first heard of jonathan coulton last month when he guest starred in an episode of the show with ze frank, brilliantly covering many of ze's songs. great stuff!

and if that wasnt enough... i also found a song jonathan wrote called "i'm your moon", which is the first song i've heard regarding pluto's demotion to dwarf plant status.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

my convexedness

the pop song "my humps" has to be one of the lamest songs i've ever heard. in her original video version, fergie flashes her scantily clad body to the head bopping beat, managing to take one's attention away from the ridiculousness of the lyrics.

in case you havent seen it yet, i share here a version of the song done by the surprisingly clever alanis morissette. i loved her first album way back when. it was great to sing really loud to while driving in the car or while slightly irritated at anything. great stuff, although i havent listened to any of her recent albums. in the video below, she sings the exact words of the original song, "my humps" in her own ballad-style. sometimes her vocals wail a bit irritatingly, but i think this video is pure hysterical genius!

Friday, April 6, 2007

star wars stamps

have you spotted an R2D2 mailbox in your town yet??

the US postal service is definitely celebrating the 30th anniversary of the legendary movies, star wars. for the second time in its 256-history, the postal service is offering a chance for the general public to vote on a stamp design. you can actually vote everyday if you like!

as you may or may not know, i'm a big fan of the original 3 movies. so this is the perfect reason for *you* to send me some real life snail mail!! i'd love to see these stamps in person and i love receiving tangible mail! :)

i think it's pretty cool that the postal service is doing this, but it also seems pretty random. i wonder who in the PR department is the truly serious star wars fan?

update: hometown baghdad.

just wanted to point out that the hometown baghdad series is up and running now. a new 3 minute episode comes out every mon, wed, and friday. i watch them at with the free day pass.

definitely worth a watch!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


cool graffiti from the ukraine

run around the world. twice.

NASA astronaut suni williams will become the first person to ever run a marathon from space. i think thats worthy of a new category in the old guinness book of world records (although master google told me that it's really called "Guinness World Records". that sounds weird.).

anyway, suni williams, shown in the above picture with a shrunken head, actually qualified for the 2007 boston marathon by finishing among the top 100 females in the 2006 houston marathon. she ran 26.2 miles in 3hr 29m and 57 seconds. 8 minute mile pace (on earth's surface)! that's awesome! she'll run the full boston marathon on a "stationary" treadmill. she'll circle the earth over two times during the race, moving over the surface of earth at more than 5 miles/second (=18,000 mph)!

the race is tomorrow, april 4th. give a cheer to the sky!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

do you are?

last month i went to a bar called the "living lounge" for a going away party. two astronomers moved back to the US after several years here. i was sad to see them go because i liked them and their adorable little 2 year old daughter! in general, i miss playing with kids!

anyway, we were a big group and people working at the bar started giving away t-shirts and hats and other promotional items. i grabbed a t-shirt. the back of the shirt has the bar's logo and on the front, in sideways writing, it says

Do you are
where you
want to be

or where
you can?

huh? hahaha! what does that mean? in smaller print around that text it says "Make your own way let the others follow you. Do you follow the others or follow your own way?" that makes much more sense!

it reminds me of all the funny little printed paper my sister used to send me letters on when she lived in south korea. they were very cute! also... i wish i could read the true translations of chinese or japanese tattoos people permanently place all over their bodies. those must be hilarious!