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.

©rq, all rights reserved.

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.

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

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

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

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.

©rq, all rights reserved.

[Read more…]

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!

©rq, all rights reserved.

[Read more…]

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.


As I am in Vilnius until Wednesday, I would like to take this small moment to cast a shadow (work will most likely occupy the rest of my time). Thank you, Nightjar, for those lovely photos of flowers and sunshine (really – today I got back to the hotel, refreshed Affinity, and it was… wow) – in sharp contrast, this is what we have: a look at Vilnius in evening (NB: there is still light, a month ago it would be completely dark!).

©rq, all rights reserved.

Here is a song from Estonia, to complete the Baltic triptych:

[Read more…]

The End Is Nigh

The end of winter at least seems to be nigh, but since one can never know what March will bring, it’s best not to cheer too loudly yet. (Actually, I wouldn’t mind real winter for another couple of weeks, it’s the yoyo I hate. Pick one, Winter. You can’t have it both ways.) The one noticeable difference now is the light – it is no longer dark outside when I leave work (had a bit of a shock Friday). Yay!

But today we will take a short look back at the Winter That Was, because it is, after all, Ronja’s favourite season.

Drive-by photo because she will not sit still if there’s snow to be et.
©rq, all rights reserved.

Well, usually…

[Read more…]

Love Is Metaphysical Gravity

That, apparently, is a quote by R Buckminster Fuller. It is also the title of a series of photographs by Reuben Wu, taken in Spitzbergen, with a particular focus on the Svalbard Satellite Station. About the series:

Taken on Spitzbergen, in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, Reuben Wu’s images detail the breathtaking appearance of our planet’s extremities. His photograph series Love Is Metaphysical Gravity is a visual feast of soft pink and blue colour tones, artic landscapes, dreamy auroras and the incomprehensible beauty of the unpolluted night’s sky.


While Love Is Metaphysical Gravity in part serves as a documentary of the remote islands and the radomes of the Svalbard Satellite Station, what it is perhaps most sensitive to is this: It may be one of the most uninhabited places on Earth, but Spitsbergen is no stranger to communication.

Picking out favourites out of that icy landscape is a challenge, but here’s a couple from Reuben’s website:

Love Is Metaphysical Gravity by Reuben Wu

Love Is Metaphysical Gravity by Reuben Wu. This one is by far my absolute favourite. Turns out it is possible to choose after all!

Love Is Metaphysical Gravity by Reuben Wu

For full effect and full-size pictures, visit his site, and there’s plenty more to explore, too. I sense a timesink of the best kind.


Urban Rainbow

I had slightly different plans, but what with the news and all, I think we can all use some rainbows instead.

If things get any worse, I will start posting picture of (one of) my cat(s).

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

Edited to add this, decidedly not my photo, but amazing rainbows nonetheless:

This is in Iceland, apparently.


Better Examples

That poor Gillette ad got a lot of comments of all kinds. This morning I read another commentary, mostly due to the title – Why The Gillette Ad Isn’t Just About Boys and Men – It’s About My Three Daughters, Too:

When it comes to female characters, our daughters (three of them: ages 7, 5 and 2) have much more choice than when I was growing up in the ’80s. They are fans of Merida from Brave and Moana from, well, Moana, both girls who push back on what their societies expect of them. They just discovered the newly re-launched Carmen Sandiego with its kick-ass female lead, and Doc McStuffins is always a solid choice.

But when it comes to male characters, most of them consist of lightly camouflaged stereotypes of the “strong man” trope. Both Moana and Merida’s fathers are large, physically strong and are chiefs of their tribe. They only reluctantly give up their conservative views about their daughters by the end of the movies. Merida’s brothers (triplets) are always portrayed as fighting or eating, a classic example of the “boys will be boys” trope called out in the Gillette spot.

And good luck with anything from the past. Our daughters recently watched the Christmas classic Home Alone, where Kevin McCallister takes his queues from the male characters he sees on TV in gangster and western movies. “It’s my house and I have to defend it,” he concludes, setting the stage for the violence to come.

I know this is something that our very own Giliell has been saying from time to time, and I can only agree, so it was nice to see it in writing: choices for girls have broadened into the traditionally ‘masculine’, but boys have not seen that same expansion into the traditionally ‘feminine’ space.

But that article pointed me towards another mencare (I did, I really did!) product company out there, with a much better ad: Harry’s.

Harry’s, another razor company, has an ad I really like but hasn’t seen nearly as much fanfare as the Gillette ad. In fact, I believe it works better in actually changing our views of men.

… Says Joseph Wilson at the CBC.

Is he right? Well, the ad features Ludacris (of Fast and Furious fame, there he is in the back!):

A very masculine set of movies, I’ll tell you, and I’ve seen them all. But Ludacris, one among the manly men, does things a little differently in the short video. I think I like it:

Whether you prefer Harry’s method or Gillette’s, both are much-needed in the dialogue about masculinity. One for calling out the bad behaviour, the other for just plain showing the better example. More, please.

(No song today. I had some ideas, but I think this time I will leave it at that.)


Season of the Ice Sculpture

Just checking in, with some lovely photos from the old military fort on the west coast:

Foto: Māris Ankevics

Winter is in full swing here, with the right proper terrible weather we should be having this time of year. I’m thoroughly enjoying it (this is my season), although I’m enjoying the accompanying flu season far less.

Foto: Māris Ankevics

I hope everyone is staying warm and safe and healthy! I have a feeling we still have some… interesting… weather ahead of us.