Monday, April 30, 2012

Pins and Pearls week of April 23rd

Because everyone should have an emergency clown nose - this week's Pins from Pinterest (just click the pic):


and in Pearls on Pearltrees:

Sparkfun started an electronics learning site.

A new paintbrush for making art on iPad. This looks so cool.

Martha Stewart's recipe for Green Tea Shortbread Cookies.

Tasty Kitchen's recipe for Spinach and Sundried Tomato Pizza.

The Odd Luminary - a site full of weirdly wonderful art.

Mod Cloth - a site full of retro styled fun things to buy.


(as an aside, I am not paid or asked to mention any of these sites or products - this is all just stuff I found that caught my interest.  Happy pinning and pearling!)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Poetry Friday: Act


Eggs Bread Milk

living room
laundry
make bed
paint
homework
angel food cake
groceries: eggs, bread, milk
make chore cards
act like everything is fine
weed garden
read stories to kids
make lists
wash appliances
fill toilet paper dispenser
don't forget to write
          a poem
act like everything is fine
don't forget

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Divine Pi - Installment 3

(To start from the beginning: Divine Pi - Installment 1
Divine Pi - Installment 2)

photo found at www.bigquestionsonline.com

Ziven made a scoffing pbbt sound and waved his hands in disgust.  He rushed into the kitchen to find his unused stack of proof books, sharpened a new pencil and sat down.  He could barely keep his fingers going fast enough.  He became extremely vexed about this and threw the pencil across the room.  He sighed, took a deep breath and sharpened a new pencil.  I think he sat at that table for at least four hours, pouring over his notes, writing new thoughts and all the while talking aloud to himself.  This was one of his more fortunate habits for me.  I often felt we were having conversations.
In the end though, I got more out of his notes than his intrapersonal communication.  He had drawn diagrams on each page with notes referencing them.  Each diagram became more complicated and layered than the last.  All however, were the same image.  It was as though he had seen it in layers and started at the lowest level then built and built and built.  It was ingenious.  He had actually found something.  He began to understand that science had not yet made progress with Pi because most studies had seen Pi as linear.  He had found a key that took Pi from a long list of numbers to something that looked more like a formed shape, as though the numbers created the surfaces of a 3D object.  But there were whole sets of numbers that broke off from the image and didn't fit.  I was astonished to say the least.  Amazing that it had not come to anyone before to see Pi beyond one dimension.  He sparked my enthusiasm once again.  Every day he doggedly studied the numbers, wrote program after program, test study after test study and I staid right there with him, in the shadows.
For the first three days after the breakthrough, he forgot himself.  This man of regimented schedules had foregone food and showers until he became so weak he could not stand for more than a few minutes without becoming dizzy.  I became fretfully concerned he wouldn't pull out of this and what would I do?  I couldn't exactly call 911, but I couldn't help feeling desperate that we might lose this savant.  To my relief, Benny showed up on that third day and found Ziven sitting in a chair, dazed.
Benny went in the kitchen and started working like a machine.  Benny didn't leave for two days.  He looked after Ziven, making him shower and shave, setting food before him and bringing him his proof books and pencils.  Ziven couldn't have recovered without that boy's devotion.  But he never stopped working, even through his weakness, his mind kept moving, moving toward its goal.
At this point, he became supremely eccentric, on the very edge of sublime.  At times  he would talk to himself so rapidly, so concentrated that he would stop in the middle of the room, have an entire conversation of philosophy, math and physics combined, forgetting where he was.  When the conversation ended, he seemed shocked to find himself standing in his apartment, the mundane reality countering his mental heights.  He had been touched by something, some unseen fervor of immortality.  The foreverness of Pi.  Deeper and deeper, he dug in search of his treasure.  The only road map he held now, were the numbers and expressions flying through his head.  The myriads of notebooks, brimming with his cerebral output, scratched so erratically it sometimes baffled even him.
Four more weeks went by, and he inched closer and closer to that elusive key to his mystery.  There was something palpable in the air, almost frightening, yet comforting, like electricity.
Then she came.  Her delicate knock barely registered an audible tap, the sound so foreign to us, we were both quite nonplussed.  She attempted a knock three more times before he righted himself and proceeded to his door.  He peered through the peephole.  I hadn't seen him so silent in weeks.  Then she reprimanded him from behind the door, “You can't hide from me, Mr. Mathematician.  Open this door, you need to see me.”  An odd declaration from a voice that seemed only faintly familiar.  In fact, Ziven rarely ever had women in his apartment.  Not that there weren't many great mathematical minds in that sex, but he seemed unable to speak, let alone think whenever one would come by.  Their visits tended to be short and singular.
As soon as he opened the door, she bustled in all business.  She took off her coat, hung her purse on a nearby rack and neatly arranged her coat over that.  Before she even turned back to face him, she spoke, “Ziven, I haven't heard from you in almost a year.  In fact, tomorrow will be exactly one year.”
Ziven's eyes glazed over for a moment.  We had both forgotten what tomorrow was, the twenty-third of September.  Every year on this date Ziven would don the only black suit he owned (the rest were scholarly tweedy affairs).  He would then stop into the local flower shop at the end of his block and buy a bouquet of pale pink peonies, her favorite flower.  He would hail a taxi and go to the Memorial Fields Graveyard where he would meet this woman and they would stand at a particular gravestone for long minutes, sometimes not speaking, sometimes animatedly talking and looking pleased.  The gravestone read Alzbeta Demidov, Beloved Sister, 1952 – 2001.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Act Like Actors


My husband and I have this recurring conversation in which we compare actors of old like Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, who had talent for multiple things and actors of today, trying to predict who will be the multi-faceted big star of the upcoming and current actors.  One actor whose career we esteem as one of those rare talents is Tom Hanks.  The man can do just about anything.  Another I find multi-talented is Meryl Streep.  (I recently watched The Iron Lady and had that belief re-confirmed.)  We have watched George Clooney and especially Brad Pitt blossom into those actors that deftly grace the silver screen in so many types of roles that you can almost always count on a great movie if they are in it - or at least a great performance from them.  On the female side we also respect Laura Linney's work, notably in Breach and John Adams.
Some upcoming talents?  I think I'll keep my eye on Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pine to name a couple.  How about you, who do you think will be the next multi-talent mega actor of our time?

P.S. The Poetry Friday word for this week:  Act

Friday, April 20, 2012

Poetry Friday - Tie

photo found at vin65.com

Forgotten

He had his garage,
          he always had his garage.
Boxes of the useful
          rubber bands
          margarine tubs and lids
          twist ties and
          paper clips and
          empty tape dispensers.
Old t-shirts work for rags.
Newspapers of history forsaken.
Jars of nuts and bolts and twiddly bits
          good for something
and the lost buttons waiting patiently.
A pile of broken toys he knows he'll fix
          someday.
Railroad spikes and rebar
stacks of wooden pallets
picture frames and car parts
empty oil cans and paint buckets
a sign or two
          even a mangled grocery cart.
Who would throw such things away?
So much waste, so much.
Back when he was young...
          nothing could afford to be forgotten.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Divine Pi - Installment 2

Divine Pi - Installment 1

picture found at www.bigquestionsonlin.com

When he started hunting through Pi, supercomputers were only owned by people with unlimited funds, mainly government institutions.  Of course, there were the Chudnovskys and their homemade supercomputer which cost considerably less but proved difficult to maintain.  In any event, my point is that Ziven didn't have a supercomputer when he started, nor did he have access to one.  Most organizations that owned supercomputers were no longer interested in pursuing Pi.  Pi tends to crash systems after a time.  But he persisted.  He read countless books and papers from top mathematicians.  He studied early scholars for clues from the past.  He had proof book after proof book brimming with his scrawl - brilliant work.  I had never seen the likes of it.  Of all the other mathematicians who wandered in and out of that apartment looking in on him, none could fully comprehend the deepness and beauty in his work, though they recognized it.
After a time however, as with most technologies, supercomputing became accessible through a new phenomenon called cloud computing and that opened the sky of calculation to the average Joe, or in this case, odd Russian mathematician.  He spread terminals throughout his living room in the apartment.  Anyone walking in would assume he had a business running in there with several employees.  There were work tables with two to three screens on each and most were always scrolling away on data.  He would skip back and forth between the stations, checking computations.  It may have looked haphazard, but everything he did had a perfect logic to it.  Even eating took a very regimented ritual.
He would prepare his food exactly at 8:00 am, 1:00 pm and 7:00 pm.  These were his mealtimes and he allowed nothing to waylay them.  At the specified time, he would sit at his small dining table suitable for one, the only surface not piled with something.  He would eat slowly, contemplatively with opera music saturating the air around him.  He seemed to be masticating mechanically more than actually consuming a meal.  These were the only times I observed him calm and still, other than in sleep.  Sleeping was another ritual for him.  He only took five hours a night.  He lay down exactly at 1:00 am and awoke exactly at 6:00 am.  Before retiring, he brushed his teeth, showered and combed his hair.  He had two pairs of pajamas, soft buckskin slippers and his favorite smoking jacket that he donned after his shower.  He would sit in his bed and read for an hour before lying down.  He had no need for an alarm clock.
Despite his affinity for opera music while eating, he had rather different taste when working.  Most often he blasted alternative rock and roll music.  A young man named Benny came to the apartment each week with his groceries.  Benny loved Ziven.  He was in awe of him.  Benny is not a mathematician or a scientific mind.  He writes.  However, like me he holds a great appreciation for genius.  Benny delighted in bringing Ziven the latest music.  He found it amusing that this elderly man, who preferred classical opera at mealtimes, wanted to hear the latest punk funk ripping music, I believe that's how Benny calls it.  I think it energized Ziven, or at least it matched his energy, giving it a heady rhythm.  Ziven even sang some of the tunes from time to time.  He did not sing on key.  I got used to that too.
It took him a long time to make any kind of breakthrough.  I almost waned in interest myself, except for the fact that he, the man I came to admire, maintained such a belief.  I suppose in reality I didn't care if he ever made progress, I just really loved living with him and studying him daily.  If only we'd been able to have conversations.  Ah the things we could have thrown around.
On the day of the discovery, I was being lazy, not doing much of anything.  I'd recently finished digesting a book of great interest to me and decided to take life easy for a bit.  If I remember correctly, yes, I lay between two stacks of notebooks, just where the fan blew the air past me.  The day sweltered to a record high.  There I was taking in what cool relief I could, thinking of nothing in particular when I heard him whooping in the other room.  I jolted up, startled, then quickly scuttered in to where he was dancing.  Yes that grown man was hopping around like someone with a hot ember in his pants.  He laughed and hollered to wake the neighborhood.  In fact, the neighbor began banging on the wall.  Apparently Ziven had interrupted his favorite TV show.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

That's Right Folks - No Pulitzer for Fiction 2012







The Pulitzer Prize committee could not find a majority agreement for which of the three nominees would receive the Pulitzer Prize in fiction this year.  The solution?  No winner will be awarded.


Wait, what?


Yes.  Three books, three authors nominated, no winner.


First, I would imagine that each of these three authors: David Foster Wallace, Karen Russell and Denis Johnson are more than gratified at simply being nominated.  I can't truly speak for them, but if it were me I would be.  Consider how many wonderful novels get released each year.  To whittle that down to three must have been difficult.  But to not choose a winner seems like an egregious lack of planning or creative problem solving.  Seriously?  They couldn't deliberate until a majority had been swayed?  They couldn't bring in some well-appointed tie-breaking committee?  They couldn't award a three-way tie?


Nobel Prize winners share the distinction when one cannot be decided on, why can't the Pulitzer Prize be given in the same way?  Here's what the Pulitzer Prize administrator Sig Gissler had to say about the decision:  There were multiple factors involved in these decisions, and we don't discuss in detail why a prize is given or not given.”  (BBC news: Pulitzer Prize board drop 2012 fiction prize).  Soo, we don't even get to know why they made this decision.


How unfair to those three authors.  If their books are considered great enough to be nominated, then one or all three deserve the prize.  Why none?


In other news, the word for this week's Poetry Friday will be Tie.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pins and Pearls Week of April 9, 2012

So I was thinking it would be fun to share my Pinterest pins of last week and some of my favorite urls I pearled on Pearltree.  I found some interesting art and all around wacky stuff, along with some nice tutorials and so forth.  Plus the Mind Moss posts for the week are in there, so you get a bonus week in review!

Source: etsy.com via Lynnea on Pinterest


Some of my favorite pearls this week were:


Friday, April 13, 2012

Poetry Friday - Bite





Tippy Toes

Woman washes window on her tippy toes.
Passersby have not looked up
to see her reach.
A cat on the sidewalk rubs himself
into passing slacks.
Small bell rings over glass door.
Man behind spectacles and the counter
turns his head to smile.
Other noses to be seen
are buried in books.
Dog outside bites his tail.
All these sidewalk bodies have someplace
to get to quickly, except
for the woman who washes the window
on her tippy toes.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Divine Pi

Here is a piece of a short story I wrote some time ago called Divine Pi.

photo found at www.bigquestionsonline.com

He disappeared.  His name was Ziven Demidov.  He studied math, or rather he lived math.  He stood six feet two, with gangly legs.  He had quirky habits.  For instance, he mumbled a lot.  I got used to it.  His fingers were always twitching; he was full of numeric energy.  I got used to that too.
I lived with him in his creaky little apartment on the twelfth floor until the day he vanished.  I watched in agonizing astonishment, as arguably the greatest mathematical mind of our time disintegrated into, actually I don't know.  I just don't know.  I've gone over it and over it.  My instinct tells me he's still alive, somewhere.
Ziven didn't know I lived in his apartment.  If he did, he might not have wanted me there.  Mostly I kept out of sight, but he fascinated me such that I often forgot myself and wandered out into the daylight, narrowly escaping notice.  His apartment, cluttered with various scraps, had been a veritable feast for me.  When I first arrived I thought I'd found Nirvana.  But then, I don't really believe in those things.  Suffice it to say, I lived a luxurious life with him.
Most other humans found Ziven an oddity, to put it mildly.  He spoke nearly always in numbers.  His mind couldn't focus on anything without breaking it down into mathematical terms.  He even saw music as numbers.  Imagine being able to see music at all.  He had a thick accent for this part of the world.  Besides these things, he lived oddly.  He rarely socialized.  Not out of fear, but sheer dogged dedication to his quest:  searching for the face of God in math, Pi specifically.
His theory lay in the fact that Pi is infinite, and has not been found to have any discernible pattern, therein must be the key to the divine, if only he could live long enough to dig out that epicenter.  When he became obsessed with this quest, Pi had been calculated to several billion digits by the Chudnovsky Mathematician, with no concrete conclusions.  He met them once at their lab.  He had gone to them in hopes of finding like-minded souls.  He succeeded.  I've heard him tell people that he spent two weeks with the Chudnovskys, speaking only of mathematics and they felt they had barely skimmed the surface.  Of course, the conversation at some point landed on Pi and there it stayed.  When Ziven returned from that visit, he could not get Pi from his mind, literally streaming out in his head digit by digit.
As a scientist, it had devastated him that he could do nothing for his sister but watch her wither and die.  Pushed by blind grief, he pursued the one thing that made sense to him, math.  I think Ziven believed if he could seek out the divine, find a way to communicate with it, he would find answers.  He saw a better future through the eyes of Pi.  He truly went to a spiritual place in numbers.  Faith like that astonished me.  What he thought the face of God would be, I just couldn't accept.  Light, utter beauty beyond imagination, pure energy emanating from a singular source, those were his words.  Why he believed any god would be benevolent I can't figure out.  But then, the human mind just cannot be quantified logically can it?

Next Part: Divine Pi - Installment 2

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Foodie Granola



I had granola on my mind this morning.  Don't know why.  Went surfing the net for some ideas and then winged it in the end.  The cool thing about granola is that you can use just about any ingredients you really want to, it's all  about having the right moisture content.  Once you have that, you toast and enjoy.  Here's my recipe from this morning:

Lynnea's Fruit Compote Granola

5 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. honey
1 c. fruit compote (I used a strawberry-applesauce that my kids and I made a couple of weeks ago)
1/2 c. nuts  chopped or sliced (today I used sliced almonds, but you could chop walnuts, pecans, etc - anything tastes nutty good)
1 c. coconut
1/2 c. melted butter (sub in oil if you prefer)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. seeds (today I threw in sunflower seeds)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. chocolate chips (I'm using 1/2 and 1/2 white chocolate and milk chocolate in this batch)

Preheat oven to 375F.  Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips.  Line two cookie sheets with foil and spread the granola mixture in them.  Toast in oven for 5 minutes, then stir to turn a bit.  Keep toasting in 5 minute intervals until your granola is at the desired golden brown of your choice.  I like mine on the toastier side, it took mine 18 minutes but any more would have been a burned yuck mess.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Don't worry if it seems too moist, as it cools, it dries to perfection.  After cool, add in the chocolate chips.
To eat, add milk and spoon, eat to your heart's delight.

Here is the nutritional information based on the Recipe Calculator at http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp


 Calories273.0
  Total Fat13.6 g
     Saturated Fat7.4 g
     Polyunsaturated Fat2.5 g
     Monounsaturated Fat3.2 g
  Cholesterol14.2 mg
  Sodium173.4 mg
  Potassium265.1 mg
  Total Carbohydrate49.9 g
     Dietary Fiber5.3 g
     Sugars22.5 g
  Protein4.7 g
  Vitamin A2.9 %
  Vitamin B-120.2 %
  Vitamin B-64.2 %
  Vitamin C6.0 %
  Vitamin D0.8 %
  Vitamin E13.1 %
  Calcium6.2 %
  Copper18.4 %
  Folate8.1 %
  Iron12.9 %
  Magnesium20.9 %
  Manganese107.6 %
  Niacin3.8 %
  Pantothenic Acid    8.1 %
  Phosphorus    26.2 %
  Riboflavin5.4 %
  Selenium4.8 %
  Thiamin20.8 %
  Zinc12.5 %


*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I forgot today is Tuesday

That means we should have a word for this week's Poetry Friday.

Hmmm.

Let me tell you a little anecdote first.

This weekend we went to my sister-in-law's for our Easter dinner.  While there she showed us a stuffed toy her dog had played with.  He had played it to death.  It was a teddy bear, light brown, with a star on its belly and had once been fluffy.  Now, his arms were torn off, all the stuffing had gone, his ears were gone and he had bite holes all over him.  I was taken with this dead teddy right away.  It screamed story.  So she laughed, looked at me like I was a nut, and then gave it to me.  Because as a writer, anything can capture your heart and yes, we are all a little nutty I think.

So, in honor of Pico and his dead teddy, I think this week we'll use the word bite.  


Go forth and ponder the bite of life.  Friday, post up the thoughts that plagued you.

A Moveable Favorite


For quite some time now I've lamented the fact that my Favorites link in my web browsing bar is imprisoned to the machine it locally sits on.  If I have a google account and I use that account on every computer I connect to, why couldn't my favorites be associated with that?  I use three computers as a rule.  I have my writing computer in our 'collaboration studio', the family computer in the kitchen and my purse-friendly laptop for writing on the go.  Each of these has fairly extensive favorites menus because I will come across some tutorial, recipe or item I love.  I save it to find later then have to boot up three computers to figure out where in the heck it is.  Why?  Haven't we progressed beyond this ridiculous localization issue?  Please.  Seriously.  No really.

Well I've got news for you.  We have.  At least one web based service has.  It is called Pearltrees and it's awesome.  It is basically a dropbox for favorites.  Dropbox, in case you didn't know is a web based document organization service.  Now you can access your documents at one web url and voila, you never have to open three computers to work on your current manuscript.  Yeah.  And it syncs automatically.  Yeah.  Well Pearltrees gives you the capability to save favorite urls into one place and organize them into trees and branches and nodes, and you can share whole trees, branches or just nodes and man I'm having so much fun. I will never lose that tantalizing recipe again, that funny video I want to show my husband, that crafting idea for activities with the kids.  Nope.

Pearltrees.  Check it out.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Poetry Friday - Mess





To Matter

Non-existence is a physical pain.
The human form as transcendental mess
twisted into itself.
The eternal Mobius of living.

If the world could speak
it would shout
the cacophony of Fibonacci's trees
then fall silent

in the weight of a seedling
bursting earth.
Everyone wants to be someone
to someone,
to belong amongst the chaos
of genus and species
and matter.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

How you Can Judge a Book by Its Cover and What If?

Chipp Kidd
This is a great TED.  Take a look when you have the time.  You will laugh.  That's not a command, just a hope.  Seriously, it's funny.




I will give you the synopsis.  Chip Kidd has worked for Knopff Publishing for many years making the cover art for books.  He makes the case for judging a book by its cover - it is after all his job to encapsulate what the book is in that one illustrative representation on the jacket.  But he also makes a case for physical books over e-books.  He recognizes the value that e-books offer, but claims the preference for physical books and expounds their loss as losing a bit of our humanity.  OK, I can dig that.  In fact, I have long been reluctant to give up my utter addiction for physical books.  I am one of those people who smell books, finger them, ruffle the pages.  Get me in a book store and I'm practically insane if I can't touch a book.  Ever been in a comic book store and seen those books (especially the hardbound ones for me) which are covered in plastic and you can't get at them?  Makes me crazy.  

All that having been said, what if e-books could offer you something far beyond what a physical book can?  What if there were an e-book that changed the way you experience books?  Because I happen to know two people working toward that goal right now.  Keep coming back here and I may just be leaving more droplets of tantalizing information about how e-books could revolutionize the way you think of books.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Hunger Games and Two Reasons I Cried

Photo from hungergamestrilogy.net
My husband and I had the rare movie date this past weekend to see The Hunger Games.  I had not read the books before seeing the movie, though I knew the basic premise of the story.  I was a bit reticent to see the movie as I am a complete lightweight about violence and a total wreck when it comes to children dying in movies.  Case in point, I will never, ever watch The Titanic again even though it was an excellent film.  Given that this story is all about children killing other children, you can see why I hesitated.  But I had heard so many great things about this film that I just couldn't resist.
First, for other lightweights out there, don't worry and go see it.  Any violent scenes are dealt with extreme discreetness.  This story moved me in so many ways.  These characters are layered and well drawn out.  Suspense through conflict keeps you riveted from beginning to end.  While there were many predictable things, I never felt annoyed by that because they were given such life and complication.  The main character, Katniss draws you in immediately.  She is one of the strongest female characters I've encountered.  Her relationships with other kids in the story have great range.
Of course the movie had a crying moment.  I knew it would be there, just didn't know when or what to expect.  I did cry, I sobbed and struggled to keep it quiet.  How embarrassing.  But for me, another crying moment happened during the credits.  I cried because the story as a whole captured me, dug into my writer's heart and stabbed.  I wish to someday move others with a story like this, to have that much power with storytelling.  And for that reason, I will be adding The Hunger Games trilogy to my reading list.