ellestra: (cosima)
Today in bizarre American date writing system is 3.14 which makes it Pi Day (3.1416 is a rounding of Pi). It's a day to celebrate it, admire its many graphical representations, write "pi-kus" and "piems". Happy Pi Day.

Today ExoMars mission has successfully launched. It's an European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos mission to hunt for signs of alien life on the Red Planet. The mission’s 2016 phase includes a Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) that’ll search for methane and other compounds of possible biological origin in Mars’ lower atmosphere, and a Schiaparelli entry, descent, and landing module, which will demonstrate complex landing technology for a larger, ground-based ExoMars rover slated to ship off in 2018. Already on Mars Curiosity is switching to a new mission. It's going to look for signs of life too.

Today is also the day when we are only month away from new Orphan Black episode (it's going to be on Thursdays now) and we have a new trailer.
ellestra: (root and shaw)
Happy New Year!

It's time to look back at the 2015. It wasn't the best of years - with terrorism rising and the weather going all wonky - but at least entertainment was good.

My top films of the year (it's SFF because that's what I see in cinemas - I usually prefer to see other films at home without people talking and looking at their phones and the smell of popcorn - but for genre I usually want the big screen experience):

The ones I was most entertained by - mostly in order: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Unlike almost everyone I had fun watching Jupiter Ascending (it was pretty and I liked Terry Gilliam parts more than the whole of Zero Theorem). I remember liking Age of Ultron but can't quite recall the plot - something, something, killer robots, something Vison, city falling from the sky, new Avengers - so in retrospect the story wasn't that interesting and I was distracted by how shiny it was. I was underwhelmed by all the YA adaptations.

The TV was pretty awesome. I need to cut back on stuff but I really, really like so much nowadays. There are all the awesome new shows. The year started with the joy that was Galavant which to surprise of everyone (and my great joy) is coming back on Sunday.The summer came with Humans and Mr. Robot. And Syfy brought some entertaining space shows - Dark Matter and Killjoys and the beautiful, high quality The Expanse series (already renewed). And Amazon has finally made SF worth watching with the wonderful The Man in the High Castle. It's certainly became my favourite show of theirs (it used to be Alpha House). I also loved Sense8 - from the get go and didn't find it hard to follow at all. I'm very excited to know they are all coming back this year. I never expected to like Limitless (I finally watched the film and it was OK but I'm glad I didn't see it in the cinema) but it turned out to be the most wonderful thing and I'm so happy it's back on Tuesday.

In another controversial view I admit that my favourite Marvel show is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's probably because I generally prefer assemble shows but I also have most fun watching it. Then it's Agent Carter (incredibly awesome and coming back in few weeks) and then Netflix ones - Daredevil and Jessica Jones (I don't have preference here so they are in chronological order). I know it makes me an odd one and I will make it even worse by admitting I like all Marvel shows more than anything DC. And that my favourite CW comic book based show is iZombie. I like Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and and I liked Constantine but this is my order of preference.

I said good bye to Continuum, Defiance and Dominium. Haven ended too but Lost Girl still has episodes to burn in US. I gave up on Gotham and Sleepy Hollow and everyone gave up on Minority Report. There were things like Falling Skies and Hemlock's Grove where couldn't get through last season - just watched last episode (still painful). I just read spoilers for Game of Thrones and watched dragons parts. I liked the miniseries - both Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and The Childhood's End. I also finally binged Black Mirror over the holidays and it is as awesome as everyone says it is. Luther would've been great too but I don't know if I can get over Alice.

There were all my old favourites. I watch The Librarians for pure fun and Doctor Who has improved this year. Person of Interest - still no one want to let us know when it'll come back but it might become a summer show (in place of the horrible Under the Dome and Extant that CBS finally cancelled) and get couple more seasons and I cant wait when our favourite psychopaths will be back. Orphan Black - Helena became true MVP this season and RIP monitors. Also have you seen the new trailers? Creepy.

My guilty pleasures included The Originals and Teen Wolf (so many pretty people in both). And I kept following my favourite dramas - The Good Wife, Major Crimes, Suits,Switched at Birth, The Fosters, The Americans, Halt and Catch Fire, The Blacklist, Elementary (Morland is a joy) and kind of keep track of Shondaland. I don't really watch sitcoms but I watched The Muppets and sometimes Blackish.

In books dragons stay my weak spot - I fell in love with Rachel Aaron's Heartstrikers books. There was more Laundry - from Mo's PoV and with superheroes. I read The Martian and The Magicians trilogy before seeing adaptations and loved both. I've read Raising Steam but I haven't touched The Shepard's Crown because if I don't then I still have one more book by Terry Pratchett to read.
ellestra: (tiger)
In American dating system today is Pi day and this year it's special as it and infinitesimally short moment of actually reaching the irrational number if account for time of the day so 3/24/25 9:26:53.58979323846... all the way to infinity

Or just celebrate Tau
ellestra: (sunrise)
I just changed time and the weather is perfect today so I spent most of the day outside and it's 7 pm and still not dark. It's not yet pollinating (thanks to all the cold recently) but very sunny and warm but not hot (18C). Perfect for a lunch and long walk with a friend. My female friend because it's also International Women's Day.

This year's theme is Make It Happen. And things are happening all over the world. From Emma Watson's live streamed gender equality talk to all the marches that went through many of the world's major cities to all the other recent events. The Guardian has a great number of articles about the issues and happenings from webchat on "The role of feminism for young people today" to history of women in science (although I'm not sure 10 Best Feminists is really something we need). In New York women were removed from ads by Not There campaign to represent the idea that women are “not there” yet in terms of gender equality. As always Google made a great doodle. On the sad side women internet harassment is still going strong - feminist blog Femsplain was taken offline earlier today by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. And of course some graphs.

Last day

Dec. 31st, 2014 02:06 pm
ellestra: (sunrise)

I hope this will be good year for everyone and one to realise all your plans. My plan is to finally go home (it's been 2 years since the last time). And even after the big trip through National Parks I still have Yellowstone to see (but that might be 2016).
ellestra: (river song)
It finally stopped raining and was sunny today. This means it's now quickly getting colder and almost feels like winter (there should be frost in the morning). And it's time for Doctor Who episode while I'm wearing one of my presents. This really starting to feel like Christmas.

I loved Last Christmas. I think it went there on top of my favourite Doctor Who Christmas specials along with A Christmas Carol and The Christmas Invasion (The Time of the Doctor is a bit more special than normal special). I loved everything about Last Christmas from the Inception and The Thing (and of course Alien) borrowings to the classic Moffat obsession with looking and monsters. Everything including Santa Clause worked perfectly in this episode.

I loved Nick Frost's Santa and his banter both with the elves and the Doctor - especially when Santa was using Doctor's own lines against him. Of course the last scene that leaves you wondering whether they are out of the dream or the Santa was real all along was perfect too. Especially after all his jibes about how Doctor is no more believable - alien in a blue police box - and of course call back to the Robin Hood episode (Doctor should now by now not just call people non-existent). So is the Doctor another dream? Of course the Inception doesn't end there - the whole thing with old Clara was also part of it (the callback to last year with helping with the cracker was almost too much - especially after the kick in the feels with Danny). I knew she wouldn't die but I thought that that was true, that this is how Clara leaves, that this was what Jenna was alluding to in all those interviews. They completely got me there (but I knew there were still dreaming because Santa on Clara's roof so at least I got that).

The facehugger crab monsters got Alien callback in the script but everything else from crab legs to polar base and taking over and the paranoia was The Thing. In the movie they didn't know who was real here they didn't even know what is real and nothing is. I loved how it seemed like they are in the (near) future and even that wasn't true. The whole polar expedition is just a fantasy - both a dream - better life than their real ones - and a nightmare - alien horror movies kind. And of course they were typical Moffat monsters - only see you when you see them and think of them - a kind of reverse Silence scenario. There's a reason why it works so well so many times.

I loved that Santa saves the day. Multiple times. Even if he was imaginary.

Even dream Danny is perfect and saves Clara. I'm still so mad that he's dead.

I now consider my theory that Twelve have face recognition disorder confirmed - he couldn't tell if base crew are the same people nor Clara's age - our faces mean nothing to him.

I loved the jokes. I loved the plot. I loved the guest characters - Ashley, Shona, Fiona and Albert (another Troughton on Doctor Who) and of course Santa and comedy elves.

There was a lot of episodes this season that just made me angry and it made it hard to like Twelve as much as I liked the other Doctors but this one was perfect. And Clara and Doctor are perfect and I'm so glad she's staying.

This was not my day. I was a walking disaster today - dropping and spilling and crushing everything I touched. I'm surprised there isn't more damage. Although my laptop might be dead - I'm not sure yet. So at least I had the Christmas special - it went perfectly.


Dec. 24th, 2014 03:34 pm
ellestra: (sunrise)
It's been raining for 3 days now. Yesterday evening it was a regular downpour with water streaming down the streets today it's mostly back to drizzle. It's also been getting warmer and it's 16 oC outside now and I just was walking outside in my short sleeves t-shirt. So it looks nothing like Christmas. But in a way it does as who really have seen snow on Christmas? Most of my memories is rain and mud and that's what's outside (only warmer) and that's what my family says they have back home. So I talked to them while they've been eating Christmas Eve supper and they showed me their presents (we open them after the supper is done) - my favourite was when my nephew got a nerf gun and my nice got a bow and they proceeded with shooting everything including each other.

So here is your presents - BBC radio adaptation of Good Omens. The first 3 episodes are already available worldwide and will stay on for next 4 weeks. The final 3 episodes will be out in next 3 days. It is pretty awesome and there's cameo in first episode that you really want to pay attention to.

And in preparation for traditional Doctor Who Christmas episode here's Doctor Puppet Christmas special:

And here's the card with that tiny bit of winter I got last February.

And now I go to celebrate Christmas Eve with friends. Enjoy your Holidays.
ellestra: (slingers)
Today everyone celebrated the end of a war that started 100 years ago. My family back home is just finishing a 4 day weekend. They saw light show yesterday but today, on the actual holiday, they obviously stayed home. There is nothing like "patriots" celebrating Independence Day by destroying the capitol to want to avoid celebrating.

So let's concentrate on something better. Middle of the night for me and early morning in Europe Philae will detach from Rosetta and start his descent towards the comet. The whole thing will take about 7 hours and will be transmitted on the web so, if you can, you can have it play in the background at work. He can't wait. Let's hope he succeeds.
ellestra: (lightning)
The week started very hot (it was 37 on Tuesday) and humid (no more cool breezes in the morning and evening). This is the ugly face of the summer here - that time when it's just unpleasant to be outside. Then they started to scare us with oncoming hurricane Arthur. Forecast predicted storms for two days. But this far inland nothing really happened (and even in the coast it wasn't as bad as it could've been).

There was one very short rain (I missed it completely just going for a 20 min lunch) that just made the air even more humid (it was almost too hot evaporating from asphalt). That was the whole hurricane moment until 4th of July started with sunshine and cooler, less humid air. And this made it really pleasant to sit outside and eat grilled sausages (holiday grill the Polish way - only with less alcohol because of small children and everyone driving). The only think Arthur did spoil was the local Fireworks. They got cancelled because it was too dry (true - it never really rained) and strong wind (false - the wind never materialised either). So we ended up going to the highest hill and watching far away explosions.

In the end the most exciting thing that shown up today was new Doctor Who teaser trailer (now with more Dalek)
ellestra: (tiger)
It's Towel Day today. I hope you all know where your towels are.

I just learned that general Jaruzelski died today. This made me feel weird as he is, for me connected to my early childhood memories. I was to young to care about politics when communism ended but old enough to remember it. So I remember liking going to 1st of May parades - I love them as we would go the whole family and then have ice cream (if it was hot) or sausages (if it was cold) after and they would give us stuff for free (hats, scarves, paper flowers and little flags - my favourite was blue with white dove on it). As I was from Warsaw we were in the big parade that walked by all the dignitaries. I remember Jaruzelski sitting there looking just like on TV with his sunglasses - my first ever celebrity spotting.

My friend (who is also Polish and here on post-doc) was run over by a car few days ago. She was on a bike and a guy decided to just drive into her. Her leg is broken and she's stuck at home. We learned that US medical care is not only overpriced but also lousy - the guy in urgent care wouldn't even wear gloves or clean her wound until she asked him to repeatedly. But she said the policemen were very nice. And even though she is stuck at home she finally has people visiting her at her flat. If only any of us understood how the whole insurance thing works... Everyone here keeps mentioning something about lawyers and that sounds scary.

But the really upsetting thing - at least to certain corners of the internet - is the fact that Edgar Wright and Marvel broke up and he's no longer the director of Ant-Man. I can't say I care either way but I always liked watching the fandom melt down over the smallest things (Quicksilver(s), Ben Affleck, Ben Affleck's Batman costume) like it's the end of the world.
ellestra: (cosima)
It's March 8 - International Women's Day. It's one of those horrible communist holidays - which was like Valentine's Day only non-sexual and with more speeches - that was turned into something positive and actually about women.

The Guardian has a whole section dedicated to the day and it has everything - from quizzes to pictures showing the lives of women around the world to protest marches to new laws protecting women.

Here are women talking why it's important it exists and why it matters. The inequality persists and the statistics still show how much needs to change - from lower access to education to lower pay to danger of sexual assault - there is something to be done for all women all over the world. Even if there are always those who can’t see the point of International Women’s Day and don't believe problems exist. The fact that in many ways it's better for more and more women doesn't mean we have solved them. There is a tendency to see other people gaining similar position as losing something. And the justifying the acting as inequality is the fault of the person being mistreated because it's obviously not my fault.

It gets even creepier when these type of justifications are used by rape apologists. New research, however, suggests that men who harass women in bars and clubs aren’t misinterpreting women’s signals because they are drunk. Rather, they may be singling out women who appear intoxicated as easy targets. Here, now you have a scientific explanation why Blurred Lines are so incredibly creepy. And you know you should blame that guy in the bar even more - he did it on purpose.

On nicer end of celebrations - this year's theme for UN celebrations is “Equality for women is progress for all” and was as commemorated at UN headquarters in New York on 7 March.

Scientific American has 15 portraits of women in science and technology and IFLS has 8 not well enough known women in science (so Maria Curie isn't your only answer).

And I'm sure you already saw the Google Doodle for today.

And at for the end, traditionally, carnations*

*In communist Poland women would get flowers for Women's Day and carnations were the popular choice to the point of becoming synonymous with the lack of effort. Still, I'm not against getting flowers. I have to admit that even getting a tulip from a hypermarket is nice even though they just do it so you'd come back to buy more.
ellestra: (lightning)
In Poland it's already 2014 so Happy New Year from the past

Because nothing conveys good wishes as explosions
ellestra: (river song)
I spent yesterday morning till afternoon skyping with my family and then evening having Christmas Eve supper with friends. Then I stay in bed till noon and skyped some more and traditionally finished the day watching Doctor Who. It feels like Christmas.

This whole episode was packed with references and explanations of many things that happened to Eleven but it just was a long goodbye, wasn't it? Time of the Doctor - SPOILERS )

I will love 12. My Doctor is always the Doctor that is the current Doctor. But it's always so hard to let go and Matt's Doctor was so cool - bowties and fezes and handwaving. I know I always feel like noone can replace the Doctor because the Doctor is the Doctor and noone else can be him but then he always is the Doctor (I know it doesn't makes any sense but you know what I mean anyway, don't you?). So I know I will be following 12 all the way. But not yet. Not now. Now, I will go and sulk because the Eleventh fell and miss him horribly already.

I need time to process this. Good almost noone is going to be at work tomorrow anyway. I can almost pretend I have two days of Christmas just like at home.

My last question - If it's always winter night (couple of minutes of down don't count) at town of Christmas where do they get food from (and trees and birds)?
ellestra: (sunrise)
After few days of temperatures above 20 oC (we all wore summer clothes to my friend's Swedish Christmas party - it was weird) it got below 10 today. It should even drop below freezing tonight and we will, at least, have frost for Christmas. Which is more then my family is going to get because the temperature in Poland isn't going to drop below 0 even at night any time soon. So here - at least some snows from the years past:

Those flowers usually bloom in North Carolina in January - and sometimes this means they are blooming in snow. Sometimes the winters in Poland can be snowy but rarely on Christmas.
"Wesołych Świąt" is traditional Polish greeting for holidays. It literally means "Merry Holidays" - you need to add "of Christmas" or "of Easter" if you want the people know which holidays but mostly people don't bother.
ellestra: (muppets)
Today is the All Saints Day and my family spent it (and the rest of the weekend) visiting graves. But I'm here far away from all of them so I went to see Halloween instead. I haven't done it since my first time here because it was either cold or rainy but this time after a very cold last week (it was even below freezing at night) yesterday was very warm (20oC even at midnight) and dry and this time all the skimpy costumes were total justified.

There was a lot of people there:

Doctors, Captain Planet and Chell - everyone:

And just like in Cinderella story the party ended at midnight. First policemen on bikes drove through the whole width of the street slowly. Behind them there were ones on foot and behind them street cleaning trucks:

ellestra: (lightning)
It was sitting outside my bedroom window. It's the first time I saw one in the wild not in cage and it was so close and just sitting there looking around for few minutes. It was big - one of the biggest birds I saw:

It was dark (late dusk) so I had to up the ISO so the photo is really noisy and the processing made it even more so (I had to up the brightness) and then I just got through several remove noise steps and it ended up looking almost like a painting.
ellestra: (telamon)
Today is International Cat Day and all I'm can do for you today is drawn you in cuteness. From the old photos of big cats to some of the cats I took care of two weeks ago

And the collection of cat hugs (Warning - the cuteness my render your brain inoperable)
ellestra: (sunrise)
It finally got warm here. Just in time for holidays (in US Monday isn't a day off but at least here Friday is). It was warm and sunny today. I was even running around in just a t-shirt and it was just a little cool. It supposed to be even warmer in next 3 days (22C on Monday) although, in March tradition, it is to rain on Sunday. Even long term prognosis looks good (just one day of cold rain on Tuesday) but if we get cold rain it probably means another round of snow up North.

The March was colder then January here. In Poland (and rest of northern Europe) it is still winter. The snow melted on Christmas but they are having White Holidays on Easter. A week ago it was -15 at night. Today it snowed again. I would wish everyone spring for Easter but all is there in forecast is more snow and snow/rain mix with temperatures barely above 0 during day. So I just wish for the Jetstream to finally move and let the warm air in.

ellestra: (lightning)
As you, probably, noticed the world didn't end (again), the Holidays are over and the New Year is almost here. I'm still kind of drowsy after all the food and all the family meetings but also from the cold I managed to catch. It's not bad but it's my first since I went to US and got sick right after I got there. So I went home and caught something just like half of the country it seems. I wonder if it's higher population density or the weather but I never managed to avoid winter sickness in Poland even when I'm inoculated against the flu like now. Or maybe I'm more resistant to illnesses from people who are not as closely related to me and therefore have different immune systems. But most likely it's because I don't meet children in US - those incubators of the worst plagues (I know I was one of them).

Anyway, I was fine for the first week when it first snowed and then got really cold. It was -10 or below during the day and the world was covered in snow or finely powdered ice:

Then the weather changed just before Christmas laughing at our faces for thinking it was going to be the white one. temperatures rose above 0 on Christmas Eve and the rain dealt got rid of the rest of the snow. It was +7 on Christmas and all that was left was some remnants of ice because the ground was frozen. Now the world is made of mud. In other words typical Polish winter.

Luckily I went to see the Christmas decorations on Warsaw's Royal Route when the snow was still there and it looked pretty - Nowy Świat i Krakowskie Przedmieście:

I like those glass bolls hanging from lamp posts best:

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