Archive for June, 2010

Across the alley at the daycare center, children swarm over the playground equipment, and that is normal.  But the “He’s after me!” shrieks switched gears a few minutes ago, and suddenly we had “Let’s pretend there’s a zombie attack” going on over there.  Eventually this morphed [perhaps due to teacher intervention] into “Let’s all be ghosts together”, and so there was 5 minutes [or five hours, depending on your tolerance levels and special relativity] of warbled moans: “Ooooohooooooooooah!  Ooooooooooo!”

The cats and I were relieved when the children were herded back inside for their next lessons.

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You can get 20 colored pencils a month from Japan, for 20 months, and then make art out of them.

Bonus: researchers are now claiming that the head crests and back sails on some dinosaurs were meant to attract mates.

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The technical term is “Benign Paroxysmal Vertigo”, which has multiple potential causes, from virally-clogged sinuses to a failure of cetirizine in the face of overwhelming allergens — the result is a world that whirls uncomfortably at unexpected moments

And suddenly I’m practicing the most basic of scientific experiments, assays along the lines of  “What happens if I turn my head this way?” “If I manage to keep my head steady while crouching to put the cat food in the bowl, what are my chances of convincing my brain that ‘down’ is the floor and not the door of the stove?” and “When will my brain feel as if it is settled inside my skull, as opposed to hoverring two inches up and to the right?” [Coincidentally, my astigmatism also causes me to believe that the world is two inches or two feet other than it physically exists, resulting in many a bruise on my right shoulder…]

In the midst of this, I am thinking about art and expertise, of experiments with plaster and paper, and trying, trying to make progress on a report I thought had been finished several weeks ago [new criteria were added, and therefore more explication required].

From your perspective, looking at the screen and these letters in some variation on Times Roman, it might seem my net of words is more tangled and dense than usual.  Does that mean they will catch any more fish?

Did I want fish?

Maybe I can make them into a metaphor, and then use it to describe something that doesn’t dart away.

In the meantime, visit with real poets: Discussions of poetics, change, impossibility, and wrestling with what best to do

BONUS: Hundreds of things I can never imagine wearing….

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Prawns and dill are a Swedish thing — and I am not, but I do like a good Midsommer celebration, even when there have to be some substitutions in the foods for the festivities.

And for those who like the occassional recipe: [you will have to scale up for more shrimp, of course; I only poached half a pound of them]

Fill the pan you will be cooking in about halfway full with water.  Get it simmering.
Meanwhile, prepare and add the following:

Clove of garlic, in several big pieces
Pinch of ginger powder [if you have real ginger-root, add to your liking]
Bay leaf
Several fronds of baby fennel [baby fennel because that’s what is growing in the pots I bought. Later in the year it might have been one rib of “grown-up” fennel]
Splash of wine [or Dubonet, which is what I use for cooking many things]
Pinch of salt

Let simmer for 5 minutes before adding the shrimp, then simmer for a few minutes [3?] more to get the shrimp poached.  Get shrimp on ice right after they have turned that nice shade of pink.


To add insult to injury:  Mango with Mint and Basil

Get two nice “champagne” mangos [the little yellow ones] that are fully ripe.

Peel and dice out the fruit.

Go out into the backyard and gather basil, basil flowers, and some mint.

Chop these into fine little shreds — it’s sort of like confetti or sprinkles for the fruit
Add to mango pieces, mix, and add a splash of mead, wine, or balsamic vinegar


The mead-du-jour was B.Nektar {Wildflower} from Michigan, which
is aged briefly in oak casks [nice, change from other meads I’ve had, although now I _really_ want to try the version aged in the bourbon barrels…!]

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Courtesy of my friend @wiredsisters:

“I don’t think I’ll ever shoplift in Riyadh again,” said Tom off-handedly.

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Actually, I had planned to mow.  All day as the mercury climbed, I thought: When it cools down a bit, I’ll get those two sections done.  Before it gets gelatinously humid tomorrow [because it is the weekend, and weekends do that in scenic Elsinore]….

And so I sort through papers, pay bills, prepare dinner, and wait for the sun to go back behind those trees for a bit.  And I get the lawnmower ready.

And as I’m plugging in the last bit of extension cord, and rolling towards that first patch of grass, I see them.

Blink                                                                        blink



BLINK                               blink


The fireflies were starting their show for the evening.  All through the lawn I could see little yellow abdomens swaying as the beetles climbed to the tips of grassblades, some flashing, some waiting until they were airborne to flare brightly every few seconds.

On the tips of the grass — oh, bad word.  I can’t mow through them!  It’s bad enough I’m going to have to trim back the fig trees this fall and risk losing part of next years crop. I can’t justify decimating this year’s lightning bug population and next year’s as well, just because my neighbors want the world to be manicured.  There should be beauty in the evening, too.

So I mowed a section where the lightning bugs were not hovering and blinking at one another, and then went inside to share dinner with Word.

Here are two Japanese songs about lightning bugs: One focusing on the humans who watch the fireflies, the other focuses on the lightning bugs themselves [I’ve sung this one: in the translated lyrics is the gem: “Firefly’s daddy — he has lots of dough/No wonder his rear end sparkles in the dark”]

[No, the image isn’t kryptonite; it’s a backlit emerald at the Smithsonian Institute]

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I love it when students realize that what I’m teaching them about arguments, belief, and consequences actually applies to Real Life. The crash of the US economy made many a skeptical student see that persuasion and belief has a larger role on ‘real’ things — business, money, power — than they initially were willing to accept.  Students also sometimes put together what my piano teacher told me about her experience of reading financial magazines instead of keyboard-focused journals: Business people may think they are acting on the basis of numbers or logic, but there’s just as much feeling and hunch-playing as in the arts.

One student, in a classroom full of liberal arts majors, said, “People bought these derivatives because they believed this was a sure thing.  And other people believed that house prices would always go up, and people believed them… And that’s why we’re in all this trouble?  People just stopped believing?”

“Yes,” I said.

“And that was rhetoric, right?”

“Yes. People were persuaded to believe something, and they acted on it. It wasn’t a matter of concrete ‘proof.’”

“But the business people think that theatre and humanities aren’t as ‘real-world’ as what they do!”

The class was now buzzing with side comments, some more indignant than others. I just smiled. “And what do you think now?”

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Gotta love archaeologists:

The shoe was discovered by scientists excavating in a huge cave in Armenia, part of a treasure trove of artifacts they found that experts say provide unprecedented information about an important and sparsely documented era: the Chalcolithic period or Copper Age, when humans are believed to have invented the wheel, domesticated horses and produced other innovations. — Full article here, @NY Times

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Oh, I can’t wait to hear how “economical” the paint was, and who was in charge of reviewing the materials list…. Cadmium paint was used on the recent run of Shrek Forever After promotional drinking glasses from McDonalds.

Heavy metals with your Coke, anyone? Become a real hunchbacked ogre!

Of course, other voices say this is a “scare”.  Probably there isn’t a great deal of cadmium in the paint, and maybe the molecules that get scrubbed off by inept fingers or overenthusiastic dishwashers wouldn’t be a real PROBLEM?

I’m really more concerned about the lack of standards [yes, that would be “regulation”; I think some is actually useful]: people should be able to make choices about what they purchase on a rational basis….that means there should be information available, and some agreed-upon basis for deciding whether a risk is tolerable or not. Getting either of those things unfortunately costs money, of which little is available at the moment.

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This was on a survey sent to me recently:

Please mark one.

male                                  female

Do they want me to say what I am, which I prefer, or which I notice might need a bit of sprucing up?

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