Oct. 15th, 2015 08:23 pm
ellestra: (sunrise)
Today's date is the same in both directions - 15-10-15 - day-month-year or year-month-day (it obviously only works for two digit year and it doesn't work for American dates but what sane person writes dates inside out). Of course that happened every month this year (and for past few years and will continue for few more years) and is going to be even cooler next month but none of these are on my birthday so this one is special for me. Next cool one like this comes on 15-10-51.

For past few years I go on a trip the weekened before. We call it birthday trip because we both have birthday around that time. This year we went to New Orleans. Photos below.

Streets of New Orleans - French Quarter

Sunrise over Mississippi

Second line - for wedding (I also saw a funeral but I don't think I should be posting it on internet - it was in the news anyway)

LaLaurie house if anyone's interested

St. Louis Cathedral outside and inside


Garden District with the mansions - including Anne Rice house

ellestra: (sunrise)
So I'm back in US after two extra hours spent in Toronto due to storm delays. Poland was beautiful as this is the time of year when everything is blooming (I went from lilacs and lily of the valley through the whole azalea and rhododendron blooming season all the way to pseudoacacia) and the weather was behaving perfectly. I got new visa. I met family. I replanted plants. And I (traditionally) got sick. I was too busy to write. Now I'm hiding from the heat as I came back straight into 35C (95F) and above weather (it's supposed to be 37 (99F) for the next 4 days straight). I resent the thought of going outside. I thought the 29-31C (84-89F) weather I was leaving in Poland was bad enough.

Also back - Philae lander. It just contacted Rosetta and the mission control. After 7 months of hibernation due to cold and lack of sunlight it's awake again. Just in time for the summer. It's just like a bear. Everyone's excited. It's been trending on twitter and xkcd has updated the Landing strip.


May. 19th, 2015 11:51 pm
ellestra: (sunrise)
On May 20 Planetary Society is sending the first test solar sail into Earth's orbit. You can watch the launch here tomorrow.

This first one is destined to burn in the atmosphere but this is the prototype for a actual launch next year. But they still need to secure additional founding so they have their own Kickstarter. They already almost 3x their goal but when both Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson are asking nicely how can you not donate. Especially for something this awesome. It's like making science fiction happen yourself.

ellestra: (sunrise)
I've just spent two days in San Francisco. Actually I spent there a little over 24 hours and the rest was flying there in back. Not fun. Especially since we flew in early in the morning and then had to spent the whole day in training trying to pretend we are thinking. But at least I got this:
ellestra: (sunrise)
So I'm enjoying spring weather in San Francisco

Night - Port and Bay Bridge

and Day - Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park and Golden Gate Bridge

And panorama of the city from Golden Bridge to Alcatraz Island

As Canadian near me said - it's 20oC and I'm wearing a t-shirt

Second try

Feb. 13th, 2015 11:56 pm
ellestra: (lightning)
Yesterday was Fat Thursday and I went in the search of doughnuts while the weather was getting progressively worse and worse. The day started nice with sunny and warm weather. Then it got cloudy and then the wind stated. The wind was getting colder and colder with the temperature rapidly dropping. I think I even saw couple of snowflakes. By the time I got my doughnut, finished work and was ready to go home it felt like it was below freezing. It wasn't but the wind chill and frigid air the wind blew in make it felt that way. The temperatures dropped to -6oC at night.

it warmed up during the day today and so it will tomorrow but the nights are to get colder and colder - I think -11oC on tomorrow night. By Sunday even the day temperature is to stay below freezing. On Monday and/or Tuesday it might even snow. I would be enjoying this possibility but I have air travel planned.

Last year I didn't manage to get to a conference in San Francisco because snowstorm cancelled all the flights. Let's see if I can get there this year. I'm to fly on Wednesday. Right now the forecast says it should be snow free but it can still move. Last year it did. It moved and hit precisely as I was supposed to take off. Also I'm flying there through Atlanta and then coming back through Detroit. I hope I'll be able to go through both of them without a problem. Especially on my way back. I don't want to get stuck in Detroit in cold winter weather. I'm not going to have the right clothes for northern kind of winter.

I usually only make post about my travel public after I'm back but since the snow is coming tomorrow I'm making it visible to friends. Let's see if I'm going to get there or not.
ellestra: (sunrise)
I spend last weekend travelling. It was a birthday trip for me and my friend - we are both from mid-October. We went to see Charleston and Savannah. Just as weather here got bad and it got cold and rainy we went South. This might be a strange concept since North Carolina is already far south from my point of view (I'm from 52o and here is 35). There doesn't seem to be much difference from Poland's perspective between here and Savannah (32) but there was this weekend.

Here the weather broke down - it was raining, it got colder (below 20 even during the day on Sunday). There I was swimming in ocean on Sunday and the water was warmer than 20 o, much warmer. It was still hot and humid even in mid October it was around 30 in both cities. With the humidity it was almost too much. I don't know if I could do it in summer. They also have palms and Spanish moss (or as we apparently call it in Polish - oplątwa brodaczkowa - lets see a foreigner who can say that).

I think the front that brought the cooler weather has reached them now too but it felt so weird when we came back to drizzle and leaves that suddenly seemed much more yellow. So here's my picspam to all of you in cold, autumn weather:

ellestra: (sunrise)
I'm on a trip through Southwest with some friends and these are the things we are planning to see: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Sequoia, Yosemite, Mono Lake and, of course, Las Vegas which is where we are flying to and from.

This post will be locked while I'm gone. Mostly because you shouldn't tell the whole internets you are leaving but also because some of my last posts where written in advance and I don't have time to finish this one (there were some explosions that turned out to be too mush gas pressure in a factory but caused a police lockdown as they sounded like gun shots on the night before we are leaving). This will also let me update this with the places we actually did see so I can compare with the plan (and also that noone would read this weeks old post).

So this is were we actually went:

In Utah - Zion which was very warm and green; Bryce Canyon (favourite of all of us I think) which was much colder and felt almost like going back months to previous season; Arches; Canyonlands which I, to my surprise, liked more than Arches; Monument Valley - we just drove the road and took a lot of pictures on it (and stayed in Gouldings) and saw Valley of the Gods pass by.

In Arizona - Horseshoe Bend and met some other Poles there; Antelope Canyon - Lower was much more fun than the Upper as they don't rush you through so fast you only know what you saw after you watch the photos and Grand Canyon which is even bigger than you think and has a deeper, smaller Canyon on the bottom of the very wide one. I also saw a sunset and a sunrise over the Grand Canyon and a lot of stars (and tripped pretty badly as there is very little light pollution there). There is also 800 years old ruin in the park and it was nice to see some actually old building along the way - it doesn't really feel like sightseeing trip without it.

In California - this is were the weather started to fall apart so Death Valley was gorgeous (all the colours of the rocks are amazing - especially Zabriskie Point and Artist's Palette) but extremely windy (samums and a wind that was pushing the car in a scary way). Then by the mountains it started raining and got cold so we never got to Sequoia (14 cm of snow and -4oC during the day) but Yosemite was open and so pretty with snow on the peaks in the Valley and than we got to walk around the sequoias in snow in the Yosemite's Mariposa Grove. Since we couldn't cross the mountains because the snow closed all the roads we didn't see Mono Lake but we drove back south the same way (and retrieved my Muppet pyjamas I left in one of the hotels) and saw Joshua Trees on Mojave Desert. Even on the deserts California was cold - my friend was disappointed but I was happy - it's much better to go sightseeing on a desert with during little below 20 oC weather than over 30. Also we both agreed that rural parts of Northern California look a lot like rural Poland (landscape wise). Very pretty that is.

Las Vegas was exactly as tacky and sad as I expected. My friend called it amusement park for adults but I rather have rollercoasters than fliers for sex shows littering all the streets and overperfumed insides of the hotels (trying to mask the cigarette smoke smell) that didn't agree with my asthma. But we saw the Hoover Dam sow that was nice.

Just like the beginning the end has it problems - like constant fire alarm on the Las Vegas airport terminal that everyone in our security check ignored but it caused all the plane crews from other checkpoints to push in front of us (Korean Air stewardesses are very tall and thin and all look like models and make you feel inadequate in their perfectly fitting uniforms). Than they changed our gate. Than we took forever to taxi on Logan and had only 15 minutes to switch planes on Logan so we made it but the luggage didn't. I still don't have any of my dirty clothes because we had one for the two of us and they delivered it to my friend.

Besides the flying, I loved the whole trip - it was completely awesome and we saw so much (and drove 5000 km - 3000 mile) it seems like I was there longer then 2 weeks. My favourite parts were Bryce, Lower Antelope, Grand Canyon, Death Valley and Yosemite. Bryce and Yosemite are among the most beautiful places I ever saw.
ellestra: (sunrise)
I just spent a weekend by the ocean. Saturday was nice and sunny and pretty warm despite strong winds and I have sunburns too prove it. Then the wind got stronger and stronger and Sunday was storm level wind levels. It got cold - I think officially it was something like 12o but with the wind chill it seemed even colder. We had to avoid beaches because wind threw sand in our faces and it hurt. But it was sunny for most of the day so we saw the lighthouses and the Wright Brothers Museum built where they did their famous flight (it used to be Kitty Hawk but now it's Kill Devil Hills - if I wasn't there I wouldn't have quite believe the names).

Lighthouses - Ocracoke, Hatteras, Bodie

Houses and trees of Outer Banks

Wright Brothers Museum - replica of the flier and the distance of the first 3 flights (37-61m) (the big rock is where they got off ground and the 3 small ones mark 3 landing sites). The 4th one was a little more decent - 279m. This is how it all started a 111 years ago and now I can go home in 15 hours with just a little of leg cramps and backpain.

ellestra: (sunrise)
I just came back from a conference in Boston. I didn't expect to go back to Boston, especially not so soon, after my last time at the end of April. However, it gave me an opportunity to cash my raincheck ticket for the whale whtching trip. It completely failed last time - we could barely see the ocean and there was no whales. This time I was more lucky. I was wearing three layers of clothing, including a hat and two hoods and Doctor Who scarf so all that was sticking outside was my dark glasses so despite very cold weather (nights were just above 0 and days only 10oC) and intense wind (sometimes the boat felt like a swing - good I have no problems with that) this was a great trip. Mostly, of course, because I got to see humpback whales. Humpbacks can be recognised by the pattern on their tales so the crew told us it was mostly Owl and her calf (who will get a name when he comes back next year) and they surfaced repeatability and the calf was playing in the water turning around.

Owl tail pattern

Owl and calf

Whale breath


Aug. 19th, 2013 10:53 pm
ellestra: (telamon)
So I just came back from New York last night. I was there as a tour guide to my cousin but I managed to fit in few things I haven't seen before - like Enterprise and Greenpoint (they even have Biedronka there :P)

We also saw some movie or TV show being filmed in Grand Central Terminal. If you ever wonder why on movies is so empty and lacking crowds of tourists taking photos it's because they shoo them out of the shot and replace with extras. In this case extras dressed in business suits who looked out of place between all the t-shirt wearing people actually there. The only actor I recognised was Marc Blucas and all he did was running, looking around in panic and then getting to only, magically open and free ticket window. I couldn't figure out what it was for from his imdb page so take your guess.

Which reminded me that when I was in the Chicago I saw stunt guys preparing for some stairway jumping. There were no cameras because they were just trying to get the set-up right but the were plenty of people watching. In the morning they said it was for Avengers. In the afternoon they said random ridiculous things like episode of Friends or more plausible things like Fear Factor but the closes to the truth I heard them to be was when they said "nothing until it works". Pick your version.

ellestra: (aeryn)
I'm back from Chicago and I had great time both on the conference and sightseeing. I had perfect weather 25-28 oC, sunny with light, cool wind. Now I'm back in heat and humidity and the storms keep coming. There is a sign just around the corner saying "Anyone seen Noah?"

I started processing the photos and some day I will make a post about my travels. Maybe. Right now I just wanted to say that I really liked Chicago from the beaches of Lake Michigan to the Museum complex. I like the city itself except the transport system. At least the buses. The "L" was fine but buses were completely random. Hearing people complaining on the bus stops made me realise Chicago is Warsaw's sister city in more ways then one. Everything else was great. Even the Chicago skyline makes bigger impression then Manhattan. In New York the skyscrapers are so close together that you have to leave Manhattan to appreciate the look. In Chicago they're further apart so you can see the multiple skyscrapers in the distance. It feels very American city like. Especially, when you are driven around in a convertible.

I had great time but then I also had to catch up with work and laundry so this is it for today. I need to go to sleep to finally switch back to my one hour earlier time zone.
ellestra: (charlie jade)
I'm flying to Chicago for a conference today. I should be on the plane already but it's late. Still on its way here. And it's so full they made us put all the larger carry-on bags into baggage hold. I also already managed to leave my poster at baggage check (I got it back and TSA guy just laughed at me - it's just paper after all - but still). And then I got onto the wrong plane (they let me in!) and almost flew to Washington instead. Luckily, that plane was as overbooked as mine so the person who had my seat number clued me in and I managed to get out. And get my carry-on back (same procedure as my real plane).

This, clearly, is not a good day for me. I wonder what mishaps await me in Chicago. I bet something will go wrong with the taxi or the hotel. Right now, I just hope I'll just manage to get there eventually.
ellestra: (muppets)
I flew back on Friday and spent a weekend trying to sleep off the jetlag while fighting the remains of the cold. My voice still breaks a little but it's almost gone. Of course the dry cough will stay for few more weeks. That's just how it works when I'm sick. No fever - excess of phlegm and coughing. So that's how my year started.

I had a pretty good flight this time. I almost slept. I met a friend I studied biology with on the plane. I walked around. I spent 4 hours on JFK. Next day I skyped with my mum and had the weirdest feeling when I saw her sitting in that room I was just in when I realised I'm now an ocean away. Plane travel boring and tedious, yet still amazing.

Meanwhile the first week of 2013 is behind us and everyone did their reviews of last year and lists of best. Locus posted the results of its polls for the best SSF in two centuries (full version here). io9 did a whole cycle of post reviewing 2012 and a post about genre shows coming in 2013.

Adam of the Wertzone and Patrick of the Pat's Fantasy Hotlist did their annual list of best. Larry on OF blog not only shared his best novels, collections and non-English language fiction of 2012 but also collected lists of other people.

I haven't really thought about mine. I was to busy enjoying having a cat and a family.
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:


Dec. 15th, 2012 11:57 pm
ellestra: (winged)
I'm all packed and start my journey home early tomorrow (early because after they switched my flight to Chicago 3 times I ended up with 5 hour layover there - I have to stop connecting through Chicago as things like that keep happening). This means this is probably my last post for a while - maybe even till next year.

I'm leaving you with a short movie and a parody.

Tempo from Red Giant on Vimeo.

This Gangam parody is worth watching just for the "Hey Science Lady, hey it's amazing..." part.
ellestra: (winged)
China's Shenzhou-9 spacecraft successfully docked with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab is the third country to dock a crewed vessel in space. The third country to built a space station (it housed humans and it's permanently on orbit - it counts). But most importantly this mission included the first woman China sent into space and Major Liu Yang is more awesome then you (she is also more awesome then her male colleagues as to qualify she had to be as good as them and a little extra). I hope she is first of many. I certainly hope they'll do better than Russians as, even though they were the first, they only ever sent 3 women into space (all in the previous century). Americans started late (20 years after Tereshkova) but at least included women on space missions pretty regularly. I hope Chinese will too. I still hope one day I will be able to go. Now I can only watch Liu Yang in space:


May. 7th, 2012 11:27 pm
ellestra: (Default)
I'm leaving for two weeks tomorrow morning. Two weeks almost to the hour - I'm leaving 11:55 and coming back 11:15 two weeks later. In the meantime I'll be in New York (official business), Los Angeles (seeing friend) and Eureka (the real one). I may post something during that time but I doubt it. So see you in two weeks.
ellestra: (telamon)
The weather today went back to what would be a perfect June back in Poland hot and sunny during the day and colder nights that let me sleep without AC on. The air smells of resh grass and the cool air comes from shadows with scent of fresh plants. That great moment before everything will get bogged down by humid heat and burned out by the sun.

So of course, I spent the whole day preparing poster for a conference. I'm almost done. I just didn't have time to do it earlier. I have a list of things I need to do this week and I hope I won't forget anything. And that I will find time for everything as there is a chance one big project will push everything else out of the way. In a way I'm glad the conference is happening as it's a reason to get away from everything.

And I will be gone for a while as the I go to New York to conference but then I have some plans of my own. Part of my plan to travel through States this year was to go and see the total eclipse of the sun. It will be visible in Northern California. And I promised my friend I did my MSc and PhD with to see her postdoc place in Los Angeles.

So I'm doing New York and Los Angeles and then go all the way to Northern California and back here. It was complicated to plan. I'm almost done.

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