Sunday, August 31, 2008

Geothermal Anyone?

And we thought it would take 2 days. A week later, it's in! Our new heating and cooling system . . . They hit rock, sandstone gunk (evidently some sandstone is worse than other sandstone, and we had the worst kind). Six holes in our front yard, 175 feet down . . . Haven't done much writing--just watching the drills going has been my latest pastime.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Split Brain Theory

"Read the one about the split brain. It's my favorite"
"It's not really a poem, Mom. It's just silly"
"What do you mean? I like it. Read it. But do you think the decade is over?"

The Split Brain Theory

from Midlife Crisis with Dick and Jane

"If split-brain patients are given such tests, the left hemisphere generates many false reports. But the right brain does not; it provides a much more veridical account." Michael S. Gazzaniga and John W. Karapelon; "The Split Brain Revisited;" Scientific American; July 1, 1998

Years later it would be postulated that the President had only half a brain. Something had happened to his right hemisphere, which impaired his sense of right and wrong, truth and falsehood, God and the Devil. When trying to say, think, or do one thing, he always accomplished the reverse. This loss of brainpower proved highly contagious. For a decade the entire nation could not successfully pass a true-false test.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

About Translations

I love translations. I love looking at foreign words and wondering . . . what they sound like, feel like, think like . . . I love making up meanings, guessing meaning, writing mis-meanings or mean meanings or fun meanings or . . . I love the idiomatic phrases, the different ways of saying things . . . the ways that words make up another world somewhere somehow . . .

Le style, c'est l'homme.

1) The stylo is the man
2) The style, it is all the hum.
3) The steely man is the man who hums.
4) Pretensions are all we are.

Il y a du monde au balcon

1) There is a balcony to the world.
2) He is there, at the edge of the world, preparing to fly . . .
3) Or maybe it is she who is his balcony of the world.
4) Ah, he says, it is she.
5) His balcony to the world, the Frenchman explains, is a large-breasted woman . . .

Il me manque

1) I miss him.
2) He is missing from me
3) He and I, we are the missing . . .
4) We are there, together, with all that is missing from our lives . . .
5) There at the balcony of the world . . .

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cool News on Dear Professor

Eric Mazur (Harvard) was awarded the Millikan prize this year, and I stole this blog post (or rather, I excerpted this from it out on my sidebar because all her posts are terrific). Her post offers a detailed account of the marvelous keynote lecture he gave for the occasion. You can download the entire presentation on his website, and I recommend that you do so, because, well, it was marvelous!

The AAPT Press release on the award has this to say:

“Professor Eric Mazur’s Peer Instruction technique has altered the landscape of physics teaching. Numerous teachers have adopted Peer Instruction, enlivening their classes by turning passive students into active learners. AAPT’s Robert A. Millikan Medal recognizes Eric Mazur’s outstanding scholarly contributions to physics education,” says Harvey S. Leff, Chair, AAPT Awards Chair, as well as the 2008 AAPT Past President, and Professor Emeritus of Physics, California State Polytechnic University.

Here’s the content of the lecture.

He opened up with this poem from the “Dear Professor” collection of poems based on emails sent to a real live physics professor and compiled by his wife, Nin Andrews.

Dear Professor,
I still don’t believe heavy
and light things fall at the same speed.
A feather and a stone, for example.
You kept saying I’d get it
if I lived in a vacuum.
Do you live in a vacuum?

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Poet Packs Her Suitcase

When a poet packs a suitcase, she makes a list first. White sunhat, striped sundress, sunglasses, sun tan lotion, pink sweater, flip flops, Spanish dictionary, etc... Then she folds her clothes into her rolling suitcase (carefully selected and marked with a purple ribbon so that it stand out as HER suitcase), and when they don't fit, she begins weeding out the unnecessary outfits. (But I need at LEAST 14 pairs of underwear, she worries, but maybe only one pair of nylons. On second thought, who needs these repulsive Hanes flesh-colored things.)

This process can take days, weeks. And endless quantities of angst . . .

When the fiction writer packs a suitcase . . .

he empties the entire laundry basket into a duffel bag. Who needs lists? Whatever he has worn in the last week is what he will wear in the coming week. Plus a swim suit. He’ll borrow the lotion or buy it there. And the towel. The past, after all, is often repeated in the future. This should work except for a few details like changes in geography, and the fact that most of the clothes belong to his mother, his sister, or his father (who is the same height but 3 sizes wider). Which adds a nice twist to the plot. And there's that evening out --wearing his sister’s tiny pink T-shirt . . .