I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Saturday reflections

Here's a flashback: an inlet on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis last summer.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

This image from the Webb Telescope shows a portion of the dwarf galaxy Wolf–Lundmark–Melotte, with other galaxies photobombing in the background.

This galaxy is approximately three million light years away, and yet the Webb is powerful enough to resolve individual stars.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Kristen McQuinn (RU)
Image processing: Zolt G. Levay (STScI)

Saturday, December 24, 2022

The midnight clear

We didn't get the worst of the winter storm that roared through the country yesterday, but it was bad enough. The temperature plunged almost fifty degrees over the course of the day and the winds were keening like a banshee.

Not that I'm going anywhere. I've yet to test negative, and though my cough and congestion are mostly gone, so is my energy. I'm definitely better—I keep reminding myself that a week ago I was in the emergency room listening to my fellow patients check in and doing my own version of snarky mental triage. (“Surgery yesterday, popped stitches, bleeding profusely? Oh, all right, you can go ahead of me.”)

I know I'm better because when I'm lounging on my bed reading or watching TV I'm no longer thinking about how crappy and tired I feel; I just don't feel up to doing anything else. (Yet.) My sense of taste is slowly coming back. Coffee unfortunately still just tastes bitter, and the only thing I can taste in the matzoh soup I had delivered yesterday is celery. But I can taste orange juice and the potato pierogies I ordered with the soup and most importantly, chocolate, so I will have a Christmas dinner of sorts tomorrow. And I do feel celebratory despite it all, with much to be grateful for: surviving two and a half years of grad school and ten days of Covid, all of my friends and colleagues, my wonderful, wonderful students, Instacart, Fresh Direct, Netflix and the Kindle, vaccines and antivirals.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Dispatch from Plague Central

When I ended the last post with a comment that crowds still make me uncomfortable, I didn't yet realize that in those particular crowds on that day, I was the threat. I started to feel sick the following afternoon, and tested positive that night.

I probably fall within the range of what medical professionals consider a “mild” illness since I wasn't hospitalized (though I did have to go to the emergency room), but what I've had does not fit any reasonable person's definition of mild. Or mine. I've had:

  1. Non-stop vomiting
  2. Non-stop coughing
  3. 1 and 2 at the same time
  4. Five days of fever
  5. Headache, bodyaches, chills
  6. Excessive upper respiratory gunk in all the usual varieties and possibly a few new ones

I started on antivirals on Thursday and they quickly made a noticeable difference in the cough and gunk symptoms. I still had to have an IV on Saturday because I was severely dehydrated and couldn't really eat or drink. Sunday I finally felt up to eating and heated up a bowl of soup only to discover symptom 7. Loss of sense of smell and taste.

I hadn't noticed because I was eating so little and honestly had other things on my mind. But that did explain why the Gatorade tasted so awful, apart from the fact that it's, you know, Gatorade. But it did make me laugh, and that's a good thing.

I picked the first pretty picture I saw in the blog folder—this was taken by the windmill in Golden Gate Park last spring. That was a perfect day and it cheers me up to remember it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

I'm sorry, where was I?

Almost done. But not quite.

Saturday, after teaching my two classes, I gave my Capstone presentation, which was my last big assignment. I left school later than usual and ended up walking all the way home because there were no cabs and traffic was ridiculous anyway.

I was too tired to eat, and ended up having my celebratory piece of cake for breakfast on Sunday. And that's about all I did. My biggest accomplishment of the day was changing from my pajamas into my sweats (when bedtime rolled around again, I couldn't be bothered changing back and slept in the sweats.)

I finally made myself put on real clothes and go outside yesterday—my brother in Minnesota had asked for pictures of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, and the sun was actually out so I walked over there.

It was the first time I'd been there at Christmas since the world blew up, and though I'm still uncomfortable in crowds, it made me emotional to see all the familiar decorations again.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Astronomy Tuesday

We would not be able to see Venus like this with our limited human eyes, but the infrared camera on board Japan's Atatsuki Venus Climate Orbiter has different limitations.

This false color image shows the higher-altitude clouds as dark; it's the brighter mid-altitude clouds that scientists are excited by at the moment after finding that they may contain phospine. Phosphine is hard to make, and on rocky planets like Earth or Venus has to be either the result of metabolic processes—i.e., life— or some new, previously unknown, chemical process. (In fact, looking for phosphine is one of the ways scientists are considering searching for life on the distant planets around other stars that they are now discovering.)

I'm old enough to remember my grade school science books calling Venus Earth's “twin” and stating that it was the only other planet in the solar system likely to be habitable. We know better now. Venus is no Perelandra; it's a boiling hot pressure cooker, and any kind of life that managed to exist there would indeed be quite alien.

Image credit: JAXA, ISAS, DARTS, Damia Bouic

Sunday, December 4, 2022


Wait, it's Sunday? How did that happen?

I'm exporting video files of me attempting to teach, which takes hours. So here's a random picture from the archives, taken in Istanbul in 2015.

Blog Archive