Caffeine: the most potent artificial intelligence drink!

Caffeine: the most potent artificial intelligence drink!
Deep in the Lair of the Perpetually Curious Fox

Monday, 28 October 2013

Aurora borealis in the Sub-arctic part I: From our backyard (from mid-August)

Of course, as a physicist, the first thing I looked forward to in the North, as soon as the night skies were dark enough was the Aurora borealis. Just because I'm pretty ill all the time does not mean I have lost the ability to feel wonder and joy looking into the skies. It's like a balm for my ailing, frail, corporeal body.

These photos were taken in the backyard sometime in August, about 2am. Because of the urban light pollution, I had to point the camera towards the southern horizon (when usually Northern Lights are supposed to be in the Northern Horizon). This far North, it's practically overhead and all over, really.

15 seconds exposure

30 seconds exposure

15 seconds exposure

Just thought the moon behind the clouds looked heartbreakingly beautiful that night. Normal exposure (1/100 s)

Same moon behind clouds, but with 10 seconds exposure. That is how light it was at night when I took the aurora photos.
I spent about 3 hours in the cold and dark for these photos, and ended up with bronchitis for the next 2 weeks. LOL. Well worth it, though. Need to wear thicker parka for nighttime work next time. Lesson learnt the hard way, but SO WORTH IT!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

What is Yellowknife like?

Weird. Extremely weird. Beautiful, but extremely weird.

For a tropical monkey who is used to the sun traversing the skies, East to West, the passage of the summer sun of Yellowknife is enough to make the inner tropical monkey in me gibber in fear.

That high up North (technically we're in the sub-arctic. Taiga area) the sun actually makes a horseshoe around the sky, and juuust barely dips below the horizon around midnight. But it remains light. That you can actually sit outside, and read a book!

These photos were taken on the Longest Day of the Year at midnight.

And trying to find your Cardinal Directions are somewhat impossible; for one thing, you cannot depend on the position of the sun (horseshoe route, remember?) and the fact that being that far North means the magnetic field lines are not really aligned North (as in True North), but also dips into the Earth. This Magnetic Inclination, in addition to the Declination drives all my magnetic compasses absolutely batshit crazy. It would randomly change directions, even when I am holding it still.

The GPS in our car also have a +/- 20 meters error on the display screen due to the position of the satellites in the horizon.

However, on that longest day, we went fishing. It was too hot to stay in the apartment. I caught my first ever fish. Just a Pike but it put up a hell of a fight, and I had a lot of fun landing it. Tastes fantastic, barbecued.

Aaaand I'm back!

Sort of.

Apologies to my readers for the year long silence in the blogosphere. Here's a quick update of what has been happening in my life (Haa! As if you're interested, really! -- Or maybe you are?).

In November 2012, I had to quit my environmental laboratory job due to poor health. Little did I know that this "poor health" flare up is likely to be a permanent thing. Before some people chip in and say "Suck it up, Buttercup!" let me give you a brief overview -- I was feeling SHITTY literally and metaphorically. Yup, my gastrointestinal symptoms just wouldn't go away -- so it was a pretty foecal situation to be in (i.e. I cannot wander far from a functioning bathroom, or at least have a shovel handy when outdoors).

Along with this colicky tummy, comes the incessant fatigue, the fluey all body pain, vomiting, nausea ... the whole works. And weird weird rashes that gets mega-infected, and does not respond to antibiotics.

From a person who is a certified workaholic (I used to clock 40 to 80 hours a week back in the UK, and up to when I quite from my job in Calgary, I clocked a respectable 40 hours a week) to needing maybe 10-14 hours sleep a day, and constant rest, it was (and still is) very very depressing.

In May this year, we (my other 2/3, myself and my cat) uprooted from Calgary to Yellowknife. My other 2/3 had a job offer that he couldn't refuse. Where I got progressively sicker, probably from the stress of the move, and the constant worry of "why can't my doctors fix me?" and wondering if I'll ever get back to my hobbies of tanning deer hides, hunting and identifying wild fungus, photography, incessant babbling on the blog, etc etc, ad infinitum.

In July (by this time I was shitting blood, and intermittently going into shock), finally a doctor decided to test me for parasites, coeliac disease, Crohn's Disease, colon cancer -- and lo and Behold, I have a massive C difficile infection and on my way to develop Toxic Megacolon. Well and truly emergency. No shit, Sherlock!

Now, 4 months later, several emergency admissions, powerful antibiotics, various scans, I am still no closer to what I can normally identify as "normal health for someone with connective tissue disorder". And doctors are still not too sure what is wrong. The C difficile is gone (so far), but my immune system is now attacking me. More doctor trips and feeling like a hot potato being passed from one clueless Medicine Man to another.

So there, I hope this sort of explains why I've disappeared from my page for so long.

I'm still hanging on, though. Friday just past, 25th October, marked my one year anniversary of being really really deathly sick. I've kinda come to terms to my different level of abilities, for now. But for now, I've turned to literature and poetry as means to "vent out".

Memento Mori**

The fallen leaves have done their tasks
In summer sun they did all bask
To ground they fall amongst dead grass
Broken down, ground, turned to dust

The trees they kept fed and hale
in turbulent winds, and falling hail
It makes me easy to believe
I will fall one day, like autumn leaves.

** Memento Mori is Latin for "Remember, for one day you will die"