Crystal Cake!

I made myself this cake for my birthday. It has four layers, poured one on top of the next and baked together: white, yellow, light chocolate and dark chocolate. (Since it’s rock-themed, I wanted it to look a bit like geological strata.)

After baking the cakes themselves, I coated the tops with melted chocolate chips, and set the crystals!

They are sugar crystals, created by dissolving tons of sugar in a bit of water on the stove

, adding food coloring, and letting it sit in bowls for a few days, until a crust of rock candy had formed over the surfaces of the bowls. (I had been hoping to make geodes, and I’d lined the bowls with lightly greased aluminum foil, but unfortunately nothing crystallized on the insides of them.)

Candle pics by Trini Tran, who attended my birthday party on the 6th. (I use votives and base 10 math for my birthday candles. 3 candles on one cake + 4 candles on the other cake = I am 34 years old.)

 

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Optical Illusion Rays

Here are some rays in the Wild Reef exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium.

Fun fact about me: I had been to the Shedd Aquarium once before, as a small child. I have only the vaguest memories of it. But to this day,  I still have lots of weird surreal dreams, which often come with a sense of being somehow connected to the Shedd Aquarium.

One recurring dream is about going around in some kind of museum with lots of exhibits behind glass, each with something strange and otherworldly in it. Visiting the Shedd Aquarium last week definitely brought back that feeling.

Another dream I often have involves fish inexplicably swimming around in the air.

It can’t have been caused by this exhibit, which was installed pretty recently. But this is a freaky optical illusion.

The rays are swimming in a shallow pool in the center of a darkened room. The pool is lit from within. So there is virtually no reflection on the surface of the water, which makes the water effectively invisible.  It looks as if the rays are swimming around in the air, an inch above dry sand.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on. If you look at the right angle, you can faintly see some reflections that tell you the water is there.

But there is no plaque or anything to explain the illusion. So, I’m pretty sure some people go to the Shedd Aquarium and come home thinking it has LEVITATING LAND RAYS.

 

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More Shedd Aquarium

A few more weird water critters. Moray eels seen from the front look WEEEEIRD.

 

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Shedd Aquarium

Some bizarre fish. I especially like the guy that swims around with his giant mouth open under his paddle-shaped nose.

 

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University of Chicago church windows

 

Every little stained glass window was different. This place is insane.

 

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Church at University of Chicago

 

 

The university chapel, which looks more like cathedrals in Europe.

 

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Chicago Uni

 

University of Chicago, which John is seriously considering for grad school.

Fascinating mixture of extravagant antique and bizarre modern architecture.

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Baha’i House of Worship, on outskirts of Chicago.

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Back from Chicago!

John took me to Chicago for the week of my birthday! It was really cool. I will be posting lots of pictures.

Here are a few from the time we spent walking around in parks and stuff. There is really weird cool outdoor art there!

 

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Vulcan priestess cosplay

 

Fun fact about me: Of all the species in Star Trek, I’ve always identified most with the Vulcans. There was definitely a period of time in my teens and young adulthood when I considered myself Vulcan-kin (Vulkin? Anyway I didn’t have a word for it at the time, being an 80’s and 90’s kid). And even though I don’t describe it that way now, I still feel some sort of deep kinship with them.

My fascination with Vulcans led to my fascination with finding ways to make the human ears appear pointed, and eventually to my fascination with making “elf earrings” that bend the ear tips into points when worn.

http://www.erikahammerschmidt.com/jewelry/category/elfear/

But the reason they’re elf earrings, and not Vulcan earrings, is because they wouldn’t work for cosplaying most Vulcans from canon. I certainly can’t imagine Spock wearing them, or any Starfleet Vulcan, for that matter. They just don’t fit with the general air of calm professionalism.

And yet there is an area of Vulcan life where such illogical adornments don’t seem totally out of place. I refer, of course, to ceremonial garb, worn by priestesses and other participants in archaic Vulcan rituals.

We don’t know exactly WHY these logical people have so many ceremonies shrouded in antiquity, let alone why they attend them dressed up in extravagant gold and gemstones. But they certainly do. Though Vulcan priestesses haven’t been shown actually wearing ear jewelry of this sort, it fits surprisingly well with the style of what they do wear.

So here’s my own take on the Vulcan ceremonial outfit. The robe, sleeves and headdress are a thrift store gown, window curtain and shawl. The inscription, taken from canon Vulcan clothing, is made of brass wire and sewn on.

The crown, inspired by T’Lar in “The Search For Spock,” is made of brass wire, copper wire, garnet and glass beads, and clear quartz points, while the IDIC pendant is brass with a garnet bead. The shoes were already perfect when I found them at the thrift store. The elf earrings (now Vulcan earrings) are brass with garnet and glass beads to match the crown.

And no, I will not take off my glasses for this costume. Visual impairment does seem to be uncommon among Vulcans, but I’m sure it still happens sometimes. And, as a desert species, I think they would find it quite logical to treat it using a method that also provides protection against sand, dry air, and the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Come to think of it, maybe I should invest in some of those Transitions lenses.

 

 

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