No Learjet required

Well you guys know about my obsession with taking moon pics. I think I’ve eclipsed myself now with this pic of the moon jumping in front of the sun!

So who watched the eclipse yesterday? Who got to see totality? Does anyone feel slightly more blind today? I hope not. :(

My sister, Deoxyribolove, came into town for the event and then we drove down into Oregon to get the totality part. The 97% we were supposed to get in Washington just wasn’t enough.

After spending the weekend frolicking around Boise, we set up camp on an old golf course in Ontario, Oregon, which was in the zone of totality. I spent the evening collecting golf balls and photographing Deoxyribolove doing poi with glow sticks.

Some of the golf balls I found had had a rough few years since the golf course closed.
So many colors…
I like this one because you can see her moving around while she makes crazy circles.

It was a great evening for camping, minus the mosquitos. We headed to bed early to hide from those little suckers. But we had great views of the Big Dipper from our tent and a nice breeze keeping us cool all night.

In the morning, we had coffee and oatmeal and then set about preparing the campsite for the eclipse. Cobalt and I had bought a pack of eclipse glasses from an American-Astronomical-Society-approved site a while ago so those came out. We also brought a colander for playing with the eclipse light and a variety of recording devices: my Zoom audio recorder for recording us reacting to the eclipse, our GoPro for a video of the same thing, and my DSLR + an old 70-200 mm lens (+ 2x multiplier) that I acquired from my grandpa. Pretty sure it was not built for a digital camera. I am so happy that I got everything to play nicely with my camera.

SAFETY NOTE: I did NOT have the correct filter for my DSLR so it only got to photograph the sun during totality (see pic above). The rest of the time, I just used my 50 mm lens to play with the sunlight.

There were so many things to play with! Of course the colander made crazy shapes on the tent wall. But so did my hat, my hair, leaves on the trees around us, and even the crooks of our elbows!

In case you were wondering, this is not how you use a colander to look at the eclipse. I just thought this would be a fun way to document our playing around with light. Luckily Deoxyribolove was willing to be my model. 
Eclipsing sisters. There’s the sun through our bent arms. Deoxyribolove had all these sweet suns going through her long hair too!
Some pictures were an all-hands-on-deck kinda deal. Here Deoxyribolove is making the cute sun shadow while Cobalt holds a piece of paper up to the tent. I was photographing and rapidly changing camera settings and focus to get that little sun as crisp as possible.
Whoa. Leaves make sun shapes on sister, Cobalt shoulders, and paper.

And then it started to get very dark. It was weird at first. Kind of orange and red-tinted. And then it got darker, and darker, and darker! And then the golf course lights came on and then we got that perfect ring up there. We only got 1 minute and 26 seconds of totality so I told myself I had one chance to take a picture with my crazy camera set up. I wanted to make sure I spent some time just experiencing the eclipse.

So as we got closer to the ring phase, I turned on the GoPro and the Zoom recorder so they could happily record the event while we forgot they were recording us. Then I set up my camera on the tripod and aimed it sort of in the direction of the sun (can’t look through the lens at the non fully eclipsed sun). And then as soon as we hit the ring, I sprang into action: pointed camera at sun, focused lens (definitely no autofocus on this lens), snapped photo, and hoped that the exposure time was right. It looked awesome! I snapped a few more with different exposure settings even though I wasn’t supposed to and then I stopped and watched the rest of totality with Cobalt and my sister. We may have taken some selfies…

So cool! Of course there are a million other things I wish I had done and looked at or noticed. A minute is so short and even though I told myself I only got one try with the camera, I was thinking about photography a little more than I wanted to be, especially when I was trying to just be in that one moment.

For the record, the GoPro did a pretty good job of capturing the rapidly darkening sky all around us and the Zoom audio recorder recorded us (and all the other people at the golf course) freaking out. I think the big lesson here is that we’ll have to go see another total solar eclipse sometime. Maybe next time it will be longer. And maybe I’ll leave the fancy lenses at home. We’ll see…

I hope you had fun with whatever eclipse viewing you did too! We certainly did. 5 stars, would watch a total solar eclipse again. :)

Thank you orange shirt guy who offered to take this picture of us. I’m sorry, I have no idea what he looks like because I had my eclipse glasses on the whole time. I could only see his orange shirt out of the bottom of the glasses.

PS: Points if you knew where my title came from. I had the line from “You’re so vain” stuck in my head the whole time…

Fourth of July Photo Contest Winners

Hey all! It’s been a long time since I posted again and I apologize about that. I know I sound like a broken record here but seriously, this trying to graduate thing is ridiculous! -_-

Anyway, let’s talk about America! Today’s post comes from the 4th of July when Cobalt and I asked our friends to text us a picture of something “American.” We got a lot of fun pictures – so many in fact that we are only posting the winners this year. Thank you so much for sending us pictures everyone! Also, if you didn’t send us a picture/didn’t win – don’t worry – there’s always next year! :)

Let’s get started:

Grand Prize

Cobalt and I really liked the composition of this pic. Artfully done. :)

Second Place

We loved this picture – so cute and also awesome! :D

Third Place

This is a pic of a bunch of Americans celebrating the 4th of July in South Korea where they are teaching English!

Yay! Congratulations to our winners!

What are you guys up to? Did you do anything sweet for the 4th of July? Cobalt and I ate a lot… Now that July is also half over, how has your July been? Anyone going on awesome vacations? I’ve been working and trying not to kill the microscope out of rage (it keeps breaking!)…

Let’s talk about America!

This would have been my entry to our photo contest. America: the great melting pot (mmmm fish and chips and Mexican sodas…)!

Today’s post is dedicated to the photo contest Cobalt and I hosted on the Fourth of July. Basically, we were inspired by a similar photo contest that we held a few years ago so we sent out texts to ~20 or so of our friends asking them to text us a picture of something they thought best represented America. As usual, we enjoyed getting responses and I think it helped make our Fourth of July even more fun! Sooooooooooo without further ado let’s announce the winners!

Grand Prize

Cobalt and I were both mesmerized by this one. So pretty…

Second Place

This one came with a caption: “light shining on the bridge of opportunity.” Also points to whoever can guess where this bridge is! I’ll give you a hint: America :D

Third Place

Yummmmm! Here’s a secret about me and Cobalt – we love our barbecue so much that we will grill food year round! We cooked steaks in the snow earlier this year…

All of the other pictures were fun too so I thought I would post them all below. There was a large selection of photos that fell under the food and drink category (we all know we looooove eating here in America!) so it gets its own subheading.

The food and drink category

This pic and the next one are titled “boys with food.”

The last (but certainly not least) photos

This one came with a caption too: “America is education and freedom enough to talk smack with this hippocampal neuron!” (that’s an electrode in the top left corner)

This one is kind of creepy and also one of my personal favorites.

Well, what do you think? Which one is your favorite? What do you think best represents America? And most of all, how was your Fourth of July? Awesome I hope. Cobalt and I went to the beach in California. The weather was perfect (this does not often happen at the beach in Northern CA, despite all you might think you know about California beaches) and we went running around in the waves. :)

Reflections on a busy week

WOW! It’s been a while since I wrote. Thanks grad school for making my life insane for a bit there. It’s funny. I am done with all my qualifying exams and my classes so all I have left to graduate is “just” research. That’s right. Do enough research to be able to publish two scientific papers on new findings and then I can graduate! If only it were that easy… Sometimes the “just research” part of grad school is awesome. You go in, get your work done, you go home, no sweat. Life is great. Sometimes the “just research” part is insane… so insane it makes you wish you still had classes left because at least classes have a finite length and obvious expectations (write this paper? DONE. Study for and take this test? DONE… vs… I looked at bacteria under a microscope for HOURS and I took HUNDREDS OF PICTURES and I still have NO idea what anything means… Whyyyyyyyyyyyy?). Anyway, you get it. Plus we packed up our whole lab and moved it a mile away into a new building. There was some moving drama in there last week too.

ANYWAY – I have been really sad that I haven’t been able to write recently. So much stuff has been going on AND I got tagged by Karyl to write a post on marriage and I am worried that she thinks I forgot about it. Don’t worry Karyl, I’ve been thinking about it all week and I hopefully will be able to finally publish my thoughts tomorrow or Thursday this week! Yay! So, I talked about grad school being dumb and moving being time consuming… What have else I been up to, you ask?

Well, besides apparently freaking out small children at church on Sunday, here are a few things I did since the last time I wrote.

1) Had really good barbecue in Longmont, CO. Seriously. Amazing. Best BBQ I’ve had so far in the state. Go check them out. Obviously skip this recommendation if you are a vegetarian.

2) Moved the lab – already talked about this but here are some pictures:

Old Lab – see that big thing of pink bubble wrap? It was probably 3 times as big when we got it and then we used it and another whole roll up moving all our fragile stuff… intense… There is nothing worse than trying to get lab tape off of bubble wrap for your information…


New Lab – my new bench bubble wrap free! In other new lab news, I learned today that it is about a 2 mile bike ride to the new building and it is almost alllll downhill on the way there. Fun times coming home this summer… :-/

3) Saw President Obama speak at my school. Regardless of your politics, how cool is it to get to see a president speak in person? Obama pictures in a minute. I just want to emphasize on here that part of the awesomeness of all of this was actually all the waiting in line to get into the events center.


We had to wait for the bus…


In the line, we had a race across a random patch of grass/compared our weird feet/did other silly things. If you look closely in the top left hand corner, you can see the line behind us…


We were all distracted by this helicopter that we thought Obama was in but then he drove right past us…


Obama on the jumbo screen of the events center. I’d say that’s a typical Obama face…


Live Obama and jumbo screen Obama in the same shot! Because our lab move day was the same day as Obama’s speech and because that was the same day my boss decided to tell me how much data analysis she needed me to do in the next few days, we didn’t get to get in line until later in the afternoon so we didn’t get the most amazing of seats. But you can still see Obama!

4) Took a road trip with Cobalt to see his family

On the road again… Cobalt and I enjoyed rocking out to crazy mashups (courtesy of Milkman) as we drove along…

Anything exciting going on in your lives? Do you obsessively photograph everything like I do? Discuss!

On the docket for tomorrow (hopefully… or Thursday… sorrrrrrrry) – What do I look forward to in my marriage? Stay tuned. It should be exciting… I have been thinking about what to say for a week now…