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Questions from Juliansinger and Dichroic - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Questions from Juliansinger and Dichroic [Aug. 25th, 2011|11:05 am]
Marissa Lingen
From juliansinger:

1) When you’re roadtripping (which I suppose you kind of are but I understand this more as a visit than a roadtrip), do you prefer a) car, b) train, c) something else? Why?

No, I'm home now. But anyway.

The thing is, I love trains. I love train travel. But I live in the Upper Midwest of the US. There are some places I could get to on a train very conveniently, and others...less so. Quite a bit less so. Amtrak is not run by people who believe in the fervent desire of great numbers of Americans to go places by rail, and I am sad to say that they are right to hold this doubt, yet at the same time it contributes to the problem. It would be entirely sensible to go to Denver by train, and I would have truly liked to do so earlier this summer. And yet my understanding is that in order to get from Minneapolis to Denver, one must first go east as far as Chicago. Unless one can say, "Splendid, here's a list of things I've always wanted to do in Chicago, and I have the time, money, and energy to extend the trip by that far, nor does doing so interfere with important commitments and responsibilities," that is just not a feasible course of action. So while I would say trains in a heartbeat, trains wouldn't actually get me all the places I would like to be, so I don't want to have to choose between them and cars.

Not buses, though. Good heavens, not buses. My godfather's wife and her parents have gone by coach tour from Los Angeles to Mount Rushmore. They have done this more than once. I am fond of Hsin-yi and very glad she married my godfather, but: this is insane. This is not the behavior of a stable person. Oh, did I mention that after they went by coach there, they had to come by coach back again? This seems relevant somehow. Coach tour from Los Angeles to Mount Rushmore, uff da, death first.

2) Do you have any beloved stuffed animals, still, or is that gone by the wayside?

My mother was just saying yesterday that they still had Lolly Dolly, which stopped being a favorite when I was 2 or 3. I'm pretty sure she still has my Snoopy and my Missy (koala) and also I have seen Mortimer (raccoon) fairly recently. They're all at Mom and Dad's, though. Here I have a different category of stuffed animals: things I never cuddled but have an intellectual fondness for. Frank the fish for throwing at bad punsters, and Hugin and Munin (ravens, obviously), the octopus for dd_b's head, my hockey moose.

3) What’s the best drink ever? Or anyway, right now?

I am a partisan of skim milk. In some parts of the US this is known as nonfat milk; it is certainly their right to call it whatever they please, but the confusion I get when trying to receive milk or hot chocolate is a bit frustrating.

I also drink water, cranberry juice, and some form of tisane every day. Other beverages as appropriate.

4) Did your route to interest in Bletchley Park come via Turing, or something else? (This was originally "What's your idea of misery," but I decided that wasn't really a useful question.)

No, rather the other direction: I was interested in early computing and codes, and that made me naturally interested in Turing. And he's really not the only interesting guy at Bletchley, not by a long shot. But actually I said to myself, "I need to know more about British codebreakers from that era for this story thing," and then I just sort of kept going.

5) Is there a historical period you’re specifically fond of? (Or, rather, I know there are, but which one would you focus on?) Any that you’re not as fond of? Why?

Oh yes, well. I like the period just after the founding of Iceland. And I like the 17th and 18th centuries better than the 16th and 19th. Lots of good chewy nerdly stuff going on there with less coverage than one gets in the 19th century, less pageantry than one tends to get about the 16th. I am more interested in WWI than WWII, more interested in the Korean War than the one in Vietnam, and fiercely, fiercely partisan towards the Seven Years War and its American reflections over the American Revolution. The Roman Republic, not the Roman Empire, but the Greeks over the Romans, the barbarians over the Greeks or the Romans, the Hapsburgs over the Hohenzollerns, and anywhere with copious snow in all things.

And from dichroic

1. Do you have a favorite thing or type of thing to bake/cook, or is variety the key?

Variety is pretty important, to be sure. One of the things I like to do is to cook/bake with constraints. "Here are ten million tomatoes, and your friend cannot have wheat! Go!" Or, you know, more constrained than that. I like making fruit crisps with whatever fruit is fresh. I like making stir-fries with whatever veggies are fresh. But I also like making black bean soup any time of the year. And Spanish rice has probably got to top the list just for how it smells when it's cooking. (Not that I dislike the taste either.)

2. Our musical tastes seem to overlap some though not entirely. Are there any specific songs you'd recommend to me? (Come to think of it, if Bear ever does this meme, this is a song I should ask her.)

I am currently liking:
Adrianne Gonzalez, Burn Me Up
Meg Hutchinson, Hard to Change
Josh Ritter, Good Man

and a bunch of other stuff I'm either not thinking of or not finding on YouTube.

3. Is chemistry really a subset of physics or is it a separate thing entirely?

Oh, certainly, ask me religious questions!

I think it isn't separate entirely--you can't separate much of any science entirely, or if you can you have a big problem that scientists chew their lips and mumble over for decades. (Oh, hi! I didn't see you there, quantum gravity!) But I do think that it's very useful for chemists to be doing their chemist-approach things and not just sighing and agreeing that they are really materials physicists deep down inside. Because certainly socially and in terms of personalities? Chemists are not physicists. Even if chemistry was finally subsumed into physics, which I doubt, chemists are still just not physicists. Poke 'em. It comes out different. I have known several of each, so I feel confident in this.

4. What are some of the best stories to read to a very new person? (Maybe once they're into the stage where listening to the words is more important than chewing on the pages.)

I am currently extremely fond of Mo Willems's Elephant & Piggy books. So very fond. I also like Jane Yolen's How Do Dinosaurs things. And I am fond of reading poetry to little bitty people, or just reciting it. When I was 10 and my eldest Swedish cousin Lars was 1, I recited all sorts of A. A. Milne to him from memory. He particularly liked the bits where they were changing the guard at Buckingham Palace (Christopher Robin went down with Alice, did you know?).

5. What are some things you especially like writing about other than fiction? (Or are there any?)

Well, you can sort of tell from the lj: I like food writing, and random true stories. But mostly fiction is an extremely flexible thing to do. If I feel like writing about food, there is fiction that will hold that. If I feel like expositing on some mathematical thing, there's fiction that will hold that too. I will attempt not to be like Kim Stanley Robinson, where his writing about rocks makes me yearn for more writing about rocks and his writing about people...still with the rocks. But that doesn't mean I commit to excluding the rocks from my fiction.

[User Picture]From: carbonel
2011-08-25 07:05 pm (UTC)
(A soldier's life is terrible hard.) It's all Emma's fault, but now I can't read that poem without hearing her sing it.

So you're saying Kim Stanley Robinson really rocks?
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-08-25 09:44 pm (UTC)
I don't know how Emma sings it, so I have that problem beat for the moment.
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[User Picture]From: carbonel
2011-08-26 02:23 pm (UTC)
Not really a problem for me, since I'm very fond of the song. Just a thing. The song is on the third Flash Girls album, so if you're interested in hearing it, I can send you an MP3.
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From: vcmw
2011-08-25 08:07 pm (UTC)
Elephant and Piggie are fabulous! I also like Jan Thomas (Rhyming Dust Bunnies) a lot, but it's hard to beat the faces on Elephant and Piggie.
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From: vcmw
2011-08-25 08:08 pm (UTC)
And I just realized I typed Piggy's name wrong, but that is because it doesn't stick in my brain the other way no matter how I try.
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2011-08-27 06:28 am (UTC)
Not so coincidentally, When We Were Very Young is one of the things I'd already ordered for the mini-nephew. Also a Mother Goose book, on the theory that since he's too young to understand anything or look at pictures, the rhythm of poetry is probably a good thing for him, and better than the many kids books that have lots of piccies and few words.

Unfortunately, apparently I ordered in too much of a hurry, or when too jetlagged, to be able to navigate Amazon correctly and I had them sent to my brother's *old* address. Sigh. (Mostly I like the way Amazon keeps old sent-to addresses and lets you pick one, so this really is my fault.)
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2011-08-27 07:09 am (UTC)
Hsin-yi sounds like a Taiwanese name, or one from a similar culture, so that may well be a cultural rather than individual preference. As far as I can tell, people in Taiwan deal with growing up in a very crowded place by getting to where they prefer being in groups rather than being alone - e.g. in contrast to the US, brightly lit, crowded restaurants are often preferred to dimly-lit ones with lots of privacy (I know the US has both, but fancier places tend to be dimmer and quieter.) Similarly, people often prefer going on vacation in groups rather than alone. In the US, you tend to think of backpacking as a thing you do to get away from people, whereas when one of my colleagues hiked up the tallest mountain in Taiwan, she went with a group of 25. Not even 25 good friends - they were mostly people from her brother's office. If you start with the idea of preferring to be in large groups, bus tours to Mt. Rushmore become a lot easier to understand. By the way, I think this applies to introverts as well as extroverts; being among large groups doesn't have to mean interacting with them a lot.

This is emphatically *not* a viewpoint I was able to adapt for myself while living in Taiwan! And of course, even for people who grew up in that culture this is only a generality and doesn't apply universally.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-08-27 01:27 pm (UTC)
I think you are not wrong about it being strongly culturally influenced, it's just...well, when you stick it in very familiar US terrain like that, which is likely to be hot much of the year, I am hard-pressed to give due weight to the urge for togetherness as opposed to the urge to control one's temperature and drink water frequently and, uh. Be somewhere that is not Nevada as swiftly as possible.
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[User Picture]From: columbina
2011-08-27 02:06 pm (UTC)
Just a late comment (I've only gotten a chance to read LJ about once a week right now) to say that I had never heard "nonfat milk" used ANYWHERE until the milk people - you know, the "Got Milk?" people - aggressively began to rebrand skim milk as nonfat milk to sell it to either the health-conscious or the diet crowd, I never could tell which, sometime in the nineties.
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