Monday, July 31, 2006

Blast from the Past (Audio Quiz #1)

Guess the animated chacter:

1) Character #1

2) Character #2

3) Character #3

Guess the TV show from its theme song:

1) Show #1

2) Show #2

3) Show #3

Guess the TV show from a clip:

1) Show #1

2) Show #2

3) Show #3

(Answers will be listed in the comments section in a day or two :-)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Goal of Living

As with Howard Nemerov, e.e. cummings is a treasured discovery of mine. I’ve chosen the following poem for my post today because the lines “in time of daffodils(who know/ the goal of living is to grow)” echo the sentiments in my last entry.

Most of e. e. cummings’ poems are puzzle-like. He uses words and syntax in unusual and interesting ways that sometimes twist the brain in such a way that some cool “aha” moments happen.

As you read this poem, instead of worrying about understanding, just roll with it. Enjoy the music. See if a line or two grab you. I am particularly taken with the first two lines of the last stanza in this poem.

in time of daffodils(who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why,remember how

in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so(forgetting seem)

in time of roses(who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if,remember yes

in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek(forgetting find)

and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me,remember me

(e. e. cummings 1894-1962)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

More than Conquerors

My aunt had a plaque by her desk that said, “Grow where you are planted.” It always caught my attention.

Something else that always catches my attention is this tree (click on photo for larger image). Seeing the conditions in which it is growing brings to mind a couple of verses.

“ . . . we are more than conquerors in him who loved us.”
Romans 8:37b

“I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

On Becoming a Wimp

I never thought I’d say this, but go ahead, call me a wimp.

Until this week I’d spent a life-time priding myself on being tough. Let’s be very clear about this. When I was in elementary school, I petitioned to get into boys’ PE, because girls’ PE was too wimpy. As a child I was upset that “campouts” for our church’s girls group meant staying in dorms and doing indoor crafts, but campouts for boys included building shelters, making fires and digging latrines. During high school I did a 10-mile run on my toes hoping to strengthen my calf muscles for track season. I’ll even admit to some really strange “tough” things. As a child, when temps were triple-digit I would walk barefoot across the street and stand a moment on the man-hole cover. While living in Michigan, I typically did not wear a coat in winter, even when the temps were below zero Fahrenheit. I've even been known to forgo pain relief for full colonoscopies with biopsies. Masochistic? Maybe. Eccentric? Quirky? Definitely! . . . but wimpy? Absolutely NOT! . . . well, not until now that is.

Let me share recent local headlines: “Hottest July on Record,” “Death Toll Climbs” (34 area deaths thought to be heat-related), “Animal Carcasses Pile Up” “County Leads State in [heat-related] Deaths” “Punishing Heat Has Coroner’s Office Scrambling,” “Withering Temps Killing Dairy Cows – Estimated 1 percent of herds down poultry losses also high,” “Fish in Jeopardy, Too.”

Did you catch that last one? Even WATER-dwelling creatures are DYING from this heat.

. . . and then our air conditioner broke. That’s when this formerly tough woman cried “uncle.” I’m not sure to what extremes I would have gone to get it fixed ASAP, but I was ready to take any and all drastic measures that may have helped. The day after our AC went out I opened the paper and found an opinion piece entitled “No AC? No sweat, older folks say.” OK, just slap me across the face and call me a wimp.

Yes, I am aware that for most of the history of the world there was no air-conditioning, and that for most of the world’s population that is still the case. Realize, however, it is also true that for most of human history, penicillin was unknown. I find I’d rather live in a time and place where both antibiotics and air conditioning exist.

I was immensely grateful when our air-conditioner was fixed this morning!

Does this make me a wimp? If so, bring it on! I’ll give up my hard-earned label “tough” and gladly take on the label “wimp;” just as long as you DON'T take my air-conditioning away!

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Celebration of Grooks

Once again, here's to short poetry! (For more on author Piet Hein and Grooks, see "Poetry to Live by" posted July 22.)

People are self-centered
to a nauseous degree.
They will keep on about themselves
while I'm explaining me.


A lifetime
is more
sufficiently long
for people to get what there is of it

If you want to know
where your money went,
you must spend it quickly
before it's spent.


There is
one art,
no more,
no less:
to do
all things
with art-

Sunday, July 23, 2006


My blog address is

Question: What’s a fractal?


A) A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is the pictorial equivalent of a 5,000-word answer.

B) If you’re interested in the words, click on comments. If not, skip it and just enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Poetry to Live by

The road to wisdom? -- Well, it's plain
and simple to express:
and err
and err again
but less
and less
and less.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

Both of these poems were written by mathematicians.


The first was written by Danish mathematician Piet Hein (1905-1996). The second was written by Persian mathematician Omar Khayyám (1048-1131). These mathematicians were by no means "one hit wonders" as poets. Piet Hein called his poems Grooks and published a number of volumes of them. Omar Khayyám's poems are known as rubaiyat (the Arabic term for quatrain or four-line stanza). He is believed to have written about a thousand of them - a thousand! You may be familiar with a line from another of The Rubaiyat: "A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread - and Thou."

Friday, July 21, 2006

Why August 27,1883?

And the answer is . . .

(If you have no idea what this is in reference to, read "Alphabet Soup" posted July 17).

Monday, August 27, 1883 has been called the day the world exploded. It is the date that 2/3 of the Indonesian island of Krakatoa disintegrated in the most catastrophic volcanic explosion in human history. Its shock wave traveled around the world 7 times. Temperatures dropped world-wide and sunsets were strikingly different in color and aspect due to the resulting dust swirling around the earth for years afterward. Its effects were felt and seen around the world; it was also heard around the world. The explosion itself could be heard thousands of miles away; in addition to this the invention of the telegraph and the newly laid sub-oceanic cables meant that news of the event was broadcast globally within moments of its occurrence. It is the first major world event for which this is true thus making it a herald for the technological information age.

The fact that this date represents a geologic event rather than the birth date of a historic, nationalistic or religious human figure makes it a particularly fitting choice since no one need feel slighted in terms of race, nationality or creed. Just as the sun is the basis for the length of the year and the moon is the basis for the length of a month, an earth-related event would now be the basis for the assigning of dates.

So, to the sensitive PC people of the world, I humbly submit my recommendation of Monday, August 27, 1883 as the new basis for a truly politically correct calendar. Oh, and don’t forget to use Mayan numeration as suggested on my earlier post – tolerate no more the oppressive BC/AD/BCE/CE Latin alphabetic notation!

(My apologies to all the school children who will have to forget the dates 1066, 1215, 1492, 1588, and 1776, but those are all such Western/Eurocentric dates anyway.)

NB: To those of you who know me well, the fact that my birthday would become an annual holiday by falling on New Year’s Day is strictly a coincidence. The selection of this date was entirely objective – no ulterior motives were involved – nor were any animals harmed in the publication of this post.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Categorical Favorites (Part One)

As Oscar Hammerstein wrote:

“When the dog bites, when the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad”

Here, by category, are some things that make me smile:

Animated character: Edna from The Incredibles (Of course, “Dahling!” Who did you think?)

Animals: Ring-tailed Lemurs

Smell: The scent of spaghetti cooking at a nearby campsite in a grove of redwood trees (Runner up: Sidewalk after rain)

Foreign Film: Amelie

Place I’ve Been: Westminster Abbey

Place I’d Like to Visit: Angkor Wat

Childhood Memory: Riding in a jet boat so fast that my eyes watered and tears flew horizontally back past my temples

Mathematician: Paul Erdös

Painting: La flèche de Zénon by René Magritte

Object I’ve Seen: The Rosetta Stone

Mathematical Idea: Infinities come in different sizes.

Scientific Idea: Time Travel

Part of Nature: Water flowing in a river

Statement by My Youngest Child (7): “Mom, it’s really hard to think about when God started.”

Math Joke: “There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don’t.”

Way to Spend Time: Engaging in a great conversation

What makes YOU smile?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

More Short

One of my life’s great pleasures is to discover a new favorite poet, one I’d never heard of before but whose work grabs me. It’s like finding buried treasure. The treasure chest is the book of poetry, and reading the poems is like savoring pieces of treasure one by one. Howard Nemerov(1920-1971)was just such a discovery.

In the spirit of my last post, here is a sampling of short poems by Howard Nemerov.


Strange about shadows, but the sun
Has never seen a single one.
Should night be mentioned by the moon
He'd be appalled at what he's done.


How many more this morning are dead of
The peace I came to bring a sword instead of?


This world's just mad enough to have been made
By the Being his beings into Being prayed.


Why are the stamps adorned with kings and presidents?
That we may lick their hinder parts and thump their heads.


Just so you shouldn't have to ask again,
He was the kind of guy that if he said
Something and you were the kind of guy that said
You can say that again, he'd say it again.*

* . . . reminds me of my husband :-)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Short is Good

Here we are, all, by day; by night we’re hurled
By dreams, each one, into a several world.

(Dreams by Robert Herrick c.1684)

There is a lot about this little poem that I like. In general I enjoy poems that are short, that rhyme and that tickle my brain in some way. According to those criteria this poem bats 1000 in my book.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Alphabet Soup


If I continue to post and you continue to read, I’m sure it will soon become obvious that I am not a fan of PC (“political correctness”), so I may as well just state that right now.

When I read literature in which the author alternates between “he” and “she” as the generic pronoun, I don’t get all warm and fuzzy inside thinking that my femininity has been respected; I just get annoyed. I’m a big girl, and I can take it that the male “he” is used as the gender-neutral-third-person-singular pronoun. Alternating pronouns just sounds stupid.

Another proliferating PC phenomena that I find annoying is the use of CE/BCE (“common era”/”before common era”) in place of BC/AD (“before Christ”/”Anno Domini” meaning “year of our Lord”). CE/BCE is supposed to be more sensitive because it eliminates Christ-related terms.

While this does accomplish the PC purpose as far as notation, it leaves the numeration just as centered on Christ as it ever was. The year 1 CE is the same as the year 1 AD, so has the notation change REALLY accomplished the intended purpose? (And why use the Latin letters B, C and E anyway? Isn’t that rather Eurocentric?)

For those who really want genuine change in this area, I have an idea. First, use Mayan rather than Latin letters. Mayans developed the most accurate calendar of any culture, so they rightfully deserve the honor. Second, shift the numeration so that “Year One” of the new system would have begun on Monday, August 27, 1883. An added PC bonus to this is that there could be a natural shift to considering Monday, rather than the Christian holy day Sunday, to be the first day of the week. Now we're talking REAL change!

Why August 27, 1883?

I’ll explain in a future post, but I want to give you a chance to have the satisfaction of figuring that out on your own first (no fair Googling it!).

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Weeds - Says Who?

I pulled these while weeding the yard this weekend. The picture doesn't do this justice, but in looking closely I noticed the delicacy of each leaf and the beautiful reddish-purple spot right in the middle of the green, as if tiny angels with paintbrushes had placed each dot just so.

I've been aware of these and recognized them as weeds since childhood, yet I do not even know their name. Who is it that decides which plants are desirable and which are weeds? (Would it be didactic to make an extension to humanity here?)

Words began to dance in my mind as I worked, specifically the last two lines of the following:
All the grown-up people say,
"What, those ugly thistles?
Musn't touch them! Keep away!
Prickly! Full of bristles!"

Yet they never make me bleed
Half so much as roses!
Must be purple is a weed,
And pink and white is posies.

(From a Very Little Sphinx iv by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1929)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Good Advice

Why is it that I often resent or disbelieve advice - thinking my own experience is unique - and then have to relearn hard lessons others have already learned and tried to spare me?

1) Kids grow up faster than you think! Enjoy every minute.

2) Don't quit piano lessons; when you're an adult you'll regret quitting.

3) Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, and don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

4) Never buy an RV on e-bay!

Reflections on this advice:

#1: How could a new parent possibly believe this advice when they are getting up every 2 hours all night, spending all their money on formula and diapers, getting spit up on, toting a diaper bag and tons of baby equipment everywhere, potty training, wrestling kids in and out of carseats, dealing with temper tantrums, going to the doctor's office every other week for vaccinations or ear infections, finding a babysitter every time they want to do something, etc.? The advice is so true, though, and oh how I wish I could go back! I'm glad I still have time to enjoy the rest of the minutes with my quickly growing children.

#2: Now I'm the adult sharing that same advice, and I know there is no eighth-grader on the planet who will believe me, just as I didn't believe the adults in my life at that age. I deeply regret quitting piano lessons, but I hope to begin taking them again as an adult. Now I LOVE to play and wish I could play well.

#3: The best advice - period.

#4: Uh . . . let's not even go there.

Friday, July 14, 2006

This is my letter to the World

Life is all about relationships, knowing and enjoying the people with whom we're making this journey called "life."

I've just returned from a trip across the country to visit family and friends I hadn't seen in a year, and I realized I feel more connected to those who blog because I can keep up on their daily lives. A lot of life happens between annual visits!

As the title of my blog says, the way in which I express myself will be mostly poetry. As I walk through each day lines from poems I know constantly come to mind that inform who I am and what shared human experience is about. I also like lists, so there will be a lot of those. I'm not much of a political person or issue oriented person, but every so often there may be an essay or observation too.

. . . and so, I enter the world of blogging and send my letter to the world.

This is my letter to the World
That never wrote to Me -
The simple News that Nature told -
With tender Majesty

Her message is committed
To Hands I cannot see -
For love of Her - Sweet - countrymen -
Judge tenderly - of Me

(Emily Dickinson c.1862)