Arcadian Functor

occasional meanderings in physics' brave new world

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Location: New Zealand

Marni D. Sheppeard

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Moving Up

Tomorrow is my last day at work in Christchurch. In a few days I'll be sitting in the uncrowded outdoor spa at the base of Mt John, which is probably snow covered now, looking at this view. Tough to be poor? Not this week.


Blogger L. Riofrio said...

When you are among nature's beauty, materiel things are not necessary. I can recall being 15 years old, thousands of kilometers from family and completely on my own in Hawaii. Then I learned that you only need 3 things for happiness: Tank top, shorts and flip-flops. Materiel possesions weigh one down with worries and distractions.

July 28, 2008 3:57 AM  
Blogger nige said...

Wow! Hope you don't freeze in that outdoor spa since it's your wintertime there. Here in England it feels like the hottest day of the year so far.

I hope you ensure that have sufficient money available to maintain your health without skimping too much on food and heating.

A decade ago I had a very poorly paid job in one of the most expensive areas of the UK, with an expensive mortgage and other bills (service charge, council tax, car insurance and tax) that soaked up nearly my entire income. Any unexpected repair bill and even some expected fuel and food bills would send me into the red for months. The result was that I couldn't afford to get the oven and washing machine fixed, and the central heating repair bill nearly bankrupted me. I was living mainly on cheap candy and turned the heating down at nights, with the result that had a constant cough or cold that appeared like symptoms of TB.

While my parents and friends would suggest that my problems could have been overcome by buying fruit instead of candy, in fact fruit simply doesn't carry enough calories and weight-for-weight it was actually far more expensive than fruit to get enough energy from fruit to be able to survive. If I could have afforded to have lived on fruit, I wouldn't have been having to get my calories from candy.

(I was recently very angry when the UK Government made chocolate manufacturers print the saturated fat content of milk chocolate on the bars. About four small squares of chocolate contain a day's recommended intake. I was often eating half a kilo a day! Now just looking at chocolate - plain is almost as bad since cocoa beans contain a lot of saturated fat, not just creamy milk - repulses me. My father and a neighbour who lives across the street had to have stents inserted into blocked heart arteries, caused by cholesterol from saturated fat intake.)

There's probably a lot to be said for being poor in good surroundings if you can obtain your own food in a sustainable way by fishing or by growing things. I hope you will be able to continue using the internet without interruption.

It would be good to know that you have some kind of back up plan to ensure that you don't end up either starving or freezing.

July 28, 2008 4:11 AM  
Blogger Kea said...

Hi Louise and Nigel. Eating mostly fruit has its own problems. Fructose is bad for your health in large quantities, and in some ways the glucose in candy is less harmful, until you get diabetes. And the problem is that junk food has a lot of fructose in it too. I think one needs four things: good health (as Nigel points out, that is difficult on a very low income), a warm place to sleep, and a dry place to sleep.

July 28, 2008 6:40 AM  
Blogger Kea said...

Oh, and of course the fourth is food.

July 28, 2008 6:40 AM  
Anonymous chimpanzee said...


I am in Hami/China (Northwest, Inner Mongolia), aiming for the Aug. 1 solar eclipse. Travel blogs here:

The guy sitting in front of me on Air China flight to Beijing is a UCLA Cosmology postdoc, & attending the solar conference in Jiayuguan. He brought up Sean Carroll & Cosmicvariance. You can see a picture of him at the Flickr blog (see above). I am in touch with a small German group (ties with Univ of Bonn, who had to go thru Max Planck Inst to get an invitation from Urumqi Observatory), I might be joining up with them. Like you, I'm adventuresome & move around a lot. I was working with a (female) high school science teacher in China (Hangzhou HS), who send me an official invitation letter & tried to get govt permit at Gongpoquan (NW of Jiayuguan). However, because of politics w/Mongolia & Olympics security, they are not allowing foreigners like me there..I found this out on the day I left (July 23)!! So, I am presently "winging it", so it's a bit stressful. I almost lost my equipment TWICE!! Train travel in China is like cattle call..hectic as heck. I now leave to find a 4x4 hire (drive & car) to investigate 2 potential observing sites. I am in touch with my German contact (science writer in Germany, who wrote a book on NASA/JPL Galileo project), so I will be TM'ing him about weather.

I will be observing near Altay mtns (border of China & Mongolia), they are snow capped. Man, is it HOT here!! At night, no coat is necessary.

Hopefully, I will report on successful eclipse (weather is the key). You can see my crazy equipment, I'm really going for it (since China is my ancestralo home).

When I get back, I will get to proposal writing. Your situation is like mine, so it is a matter of "earmarking" something for you. I have a lot of powerful/influential/wealthy contacts in Academia & Industry. So, hang tight..your situation should improve with outside assistance.

"Good people don't let bad things happen to other good people"

Remember, your wealth is measured in your relationships..not material wealth. Although, the latter could really make things a LOT easier!!

My prediction for you is that you will become both financially & intellectually (already are) wealthy.

July 28, 2008 7:30 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

Chimpanzee, how exciting! Well, I hope it all works out and you have a fantastic time (that's a part of the world I would love to visit sometime). Thanks for posting your news.

I have just finished work at the restaurant. Everybody gave me a nice card, with some good wine and chocolate, which I will enjoy in the hot spa in Tekapo.

July 28, 2008 7:35 PM  
Anonymous Tony Smith said...

Chimpanzee, thanks for mentioning the 1 Aug 2008 solar eclipse, and that you will be seeing it "... near Altay mtns (border of China & Mongolia) ...",
which seems from eclipse web pages to be about half-way
from the point of greatest eclipse in Russia near the Arctic Ocean
to the end of the eclipse in China near Xian and the home of the Terra Cotta Army.

Since the eclipse begins in North America,
maybe it symbolizes the shift of geopolitical power from North America through Russia to China.

Will you be going near my favorite mountain, Gora Belukha?
Gora Belukha is where the 9 March 1997 total solar eclipse began. It went on to end near the North Pole, and it coincided with Comet Hale-Bopp.
There is an image at
showing the eclipsed sun near the horizon with the darkness showing Comet Hale-Bopp in the sky above.
Gora Belukha may also be known in China as Kunlun Shan, the home of Xi Wang Mu, the Queen of the West,
and may also be known in India as Su Meru, home of Indra.

Tony Smith

July 29, 2008 8:17 AM  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

"Everybody gave me a nice card, with some good wine and chocolate, which I will enjoy in the hot spa in Tekapo."

I'm glad to hear that you're running your professional life more kindly and gently than at least one other unemployed amateur I know! Half the secret to life is doing a job well. What's the Zen phrase? Cut wood. Haul water.

July 30, 2008 6:28 AM  
Anonymous tommaso dorigo said...

Hi Kea,

awesome view! I am sure you are going to enjoy it a lot... I wonder if I will ever see those beautiful mountains you have down there.


July 30, 2008 11:28 PM  

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