Excuses, Excuses

There is a reason why I was hesitant in accepting the co-blogger post, and that is because I am notoriously inconsistent.

I do a lot of prioritizing of energy and time, and as much as I’d like to say this blog is higher on that list, the top 3 spots go to family, work and health – and sometimes, there is nothing left over. My friendships suffer neglect, my roses remain uncut, and I realize that, although I have the material, I don’t have the motivation to put together a post of any kind. For that, I apologize.

I am currently on antibiotics for a sinus infection and the early signs of strep throat, but alongside that I have some nasty bronchitis that seems to be enjoying April far more than I am. Doctor’s orders are to literally stay in bed and sleep until Saturday, but there is emails to answer and projects to sort out and my candidate-in-training is writing her thesis, which must be submitted on Monday (when I have to be in Sweden) – and of course, there’s the children and their shenanigans.

However, I have not forgotten: I still have photos from Canyon Matka, I still have photos from the coin museum (yes, it’s just lots of old, shiny coins!), I still have photos from the aqueduct, plus various random items that show signs of spring arriving. So as slow as I take it, please take it with the best of intentions.

April is for sure this year the cruellest month. And to think it’s only just begun…

Names and Faces

Let us begin with this:

Text in tweet: “I don’t know the terrorist’s name. Nor do I care to know it.

Im keen on knowing the names, remembering the stories and celebrating the lives of the victims.”

BBC has a list, as does the New Zealand Herald:

They are fathers, mothers, grandparents, daughters and sons.

They are refugees, immigrants and New-Zealand born.

They are Kiwis.

These are the names of those who have died or are missing after the horrific acts of terror in Christchurch.

You can probably find more lists elsewhere, as they are being updated. This man, Khaled Beydoun, is keeping a list on Twitter. The number of victims has now increased to 51.

My heart goes out to the New Zealand Muslim community so disproportionately affected by this violence, as one of your local athletes puts so well:

While as cities and a nation we are all devastated by what happened yesterday, let’s not lose sight of the fact that yesterday’s terrorist attacks were targeted at the Muslim community. While it may have felt like it, we were not all at risk. We were not all unsafe. But we are all responsible for joining the wider conversation about racism, about white supremacy, about who we are as a country, and what’s actually going on.
I walked through the airport this morning and saw Muslim people going about their day in fear, including one woman that I and a couple of others sat with while she cried. I thought about how they were in fear as their community has been attacked, and how they would also be in fear if the perpetrator had been Muslim and the victims random, afraid for themselves and their children due to potential backlash from others in the community.

At what point do they get to rest? Why is everyone else able to go about their day? Why does the responsibility for such devastating actions by individuals get placed on entire communities in some cases but not others?

The reality is I know why. If you don’t know why, once we have had time to grieve, it might be time for some uncomfortable conversations.

In the mean time I implore you to support our Muslim community through donating to one of the fundraisers currently happening.

To our Muslim brothers and sisters – kei te heke ngā roimata, kei te ngākau pōuri au, ka aroha ki a koutou. I am so sorry this happened to you here. You should have been safe here, you should be safe everywhere. My heart is so heavy.

Ringatoi/Artist: Adrien Tavite

(via his instagram)

And this time no music, but to close off, A poem by Warsan Shire: What They Did Yesterday Afternoon:

what they did yesterday afternoon

by warsan shire

grief-reactionthey set my aunts house on fire
i cried the way women on tv do
folding at the middle
like a five pound note.
i called the boy who use to love me
tried to ‘okay’ my voice
i said hello
he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?

i’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like;
dear god
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered


(More from warshan shire in the New Yorker and on her blog.)

Brexit Revisited v2

Because clicking on one thing inevitably leads to another, here’s a companion piece to Charly’s youtube video.

I understand that Brexit can be the source of all kinds of negative emotions – frustration, anger, betrayal, confusion, etc., and for this reason, a nice round of relaxation with yoga might be in order:

To be quite honest, it’s supposed to be funny, but at this point, I’m far more ready to cry. Or laugh-cry, at the very least. Deep breaths, I suppose.

Here’s some more meditative music:


I will have more Canyon Matka and also posts from the aqueduct, but I am travelling tomorrow and Sunday so please have these ducks enjoying a sunlit evening by the Vardar in the meantime.

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Happy International Women’s Day.

Canyon Matka – Part 4: Botanicals!

Amongst all the rock and all the river, I found some rather delightful and charming botanical residents – it is the first day of March, so Spring is still making its slow entrance, but the first small spots of colour are appearing. If anyone would like to ID any of these plants, I’d be most grateful, because I seem to be short on time.

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Today’s song doesn’t have much to do about plants but focuses on the wandering aspect of enjoying strange places, new countries, and magnificent natural locations.

Canyon Matka – Part 3: Underwater Worlds

I promised the colour of the water, so here we are: underwater worlds sunk between the mountains.

The water was a deep green colour and strangely clear, at least near the shoreline.

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But the shapes that one could see underneath – mermaid cities and submerged civilisations and much, much more. I think Nessie even shows up at one point… Please enjoy!

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Canyon Matka – Part 1v2: Pathways cont’d

Here are some more pictures of the walk back from the caves, I don’t think any particular commentary is necessary, just enjoy. Although these are more demonstrative of the treachery inherent to any wild and untamed place that feels the heavy hand of human civilisation: rebellion lies not far beneath the surface.

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In some places, the railing was completely absent. From the pale scratches on the rock below, it was deduced that this was relatively recent damage… So the walk continued with frequent glances upslope! ©rq, all rights reserved.

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This, I think, was the most uncomfortable place of the entire hike. ©rq, all rights reserved.

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Gateway to a magical world… ©rq, all rights reserved.

Is this the tomb of Amontillado? Or simply a bricked up cave? The words ‘Open Sesame’ didn’t seem to have any effect at all… ©rq, all rights reserved.

Canyon Matka – Part 2: Reflections

One of my favourite books has a great bit about Truth, Illusion and the Edge between the two. And the edge of Canyon Matka is the mirror of the water. The mountains reach into the sky, but if you peer down into the water, you can see that the mountains descend into the depths as well – but more about that later.

It was a quiet evening. And the rocks, glorious rocks, dipped into the river and rose out of it, in bends and folds eons in the shaping.

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Canyon Matka – Part 1: Pathways

Week 1 here in Macedonia has been successfully survived. It’s a long-established truth that the more disaster you expect, the less you will get (like bringing an umbrella to prevent the rain), but it was still exhausting, and some recovery was in order. Apparently it is trendy to use nature exposure these days, so that is what we – my two Lithuanian colleagues and I – proceeded to do. This will be a long series of posts, because I finally had the time, the freedom and the unhurried companionship to take a… decent… amount of photos. So, here is part 1: Pathways (which will be in two parts). Let us take a walk! Also OMG it’s been so long since I posted!

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Journey’s End

As we all know, Opportunity was declared officially MIA a short while ago. I had planned on preparing a more sensical post as tribute, but instead, here is a short list of links on the subject:

Opportunity Rover (xkcd)

Opportunity (xkcd)

Spirit (xkcd) (I know I know but it’s a good one)

It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Our Beloved Mars Rover

NASA Declares a Beloved Mars Mission Over

Six Things to Know About NASA’s Opportunity Rover

The Mars Opportunity rover has officially ghosted Earth

Death and Opportunity

And finally, from the futuristic fiction department, A Martian Hunts for the Red Planet’s Past – And His Own


#WomenInScience Day

Yesterday was Women and Girls in Science Day, which I only found out when it was almost over.

In the spirit of my work, here’s an article via The Atlantic, The History of Women in Science is Hidden in Plain Sight.

Over the last few years, a team of students led by Emilia Huerta-Sánchez from Brown University and Rori Rohlfs from San Francisco State University have been searching through two decades’ worth of acknowledgments in genetics papers and discovering women who were never given the credit that would be expected for today’s researchers. They identified dozens of female programmers who made important but unrecognized contributions. Some were repeatedly thanked in the acknowledgments of several papers, but were never recognized as authors. They became literal footnotes in scientific history, despite helping to make that history.

“When Emilia and I look at our elders in population genetics, there are very, very few women,” says Rohlfs. “But there were women and they were doing this work. To even know that they existed is a big deal to me.”

That seems to be the key – to even know that they existed. I know every time I find out about a woman in a field of science previously understood to be all male, I have Feelings, and it always feels like a big deal.

And I wish it wouldn’t.