04 12 / 2013
I happened upon two radiation stories today. One on the great and powerful Last Word On Nothing blog about early 20th-century science artifacts in L. Frank Baum’s Oz books.
In the [Patchwork Girl of Oz] book, Dorothy and her companions go on a quest to revive some people who have been turned to marble. One of the ingredients they need is water from a dark well, which they seek inside a mountain where two tribes live in a vast cave.
When the travelers enter a house, they find something amazing: The room dazzles, “for it was lined throughout with an exquisite metal that resembled translucent frosted silver” and radiates soft light.
“That’s radium,” explains the Chief. “We Horners spend all our time digging radium from the mines under this mountain, and we use it to decorate our homes and make them pretty and cosy. It is a medicine, too, and no one can ever be sick who lives near radium.”
And Elsewhere, details on an advance that may make it possible to use X-ray technology to image soft tissues.
The key is to produce coherent beams of X-rays from an array of micron-sized point sources, instead of a spread from a single, large point as in conventional systems, Velásquez-García explains. The team’s approach includes developing hardware that is an innovative application of batch microfabrication processes used to make microchips for computers and electronic devices.
Using these methods — alternating between depositing layers of material and selectively etching the material away — the MIT researchers have produced a nanostructured surface with an array of tiny tips, each of which can emit a beam of electrons. These, in turn, pass through a microstructured plate that emits a beam of X-rays.
Using the first version of the cathode, the team was able to capture high-resolution absorption images of samples where fine soft-tissue structures are clearly visible.
03 12 / 2013
"Sinking a log is an act of world-building." (From a fascinating piece on woodfalls, the tiny colonies that form on hunks of industrial (human-used) wood when it is submerged in the sea.) Not about poop.
There was some oblique talk of poop in Hands today—the part I’m reading is about tool use, modification, and making:
Tool-making is an activity by which a naturally occurring object is transformed in a set and regular manner into an appropriate tool for a definite purpose.
Inherent in this definition of tool-making is the maintenance of continuity in successive generations by means of example and demonstration. Whether this is what is meant by culture I am quite unable to say; certainly t is one aspect of it. If culture includes imitation as this brief extract from Goodall (1968) attests—“In the wild I saw infant chimpanzees, on many occasions, not only watching adults as they worked [at termite-fishing] but also picking up and using the same tools when the adults moved away” (p. 209)—then chimpanzees have a culture. Goodall observed the use of leaves as “lavatory paper” by infant chimpanzees in imitation of their mothers’ toilet behavior.
I meant to bring up the Hands book because it contained the musical phrase, “gracile australopithecus,” which has wormed its way into my head. Try saying it!
Did the gracile australopithecines use tools? Did they use toilet paper? We may never know.
02 12 / 2013
But I know (thanks, Mr. Z) that I should really be seeking out the clothes of a working adult. And then probably working on something or other.
01 12 / 2013
Above, some small takeout paper products I feel compelled to keep. (Sign of incredible nostalgic font power? Sign that I am hoarder at heart?) Below, a teabag that, were it not filled with digestion-calming ginger, may have made me throw up.
This weekend we also received two big boxes of takeout paper—books from Mr. Z’s parents, from Mr. Z’s former home-shelves and school shelves. We went through them and sorted them into our bookshelves. Many are full of poems. One, selected poems of Kenneth Patchen.
This is a poet I hadn’t heard of until today. Born in 1911 in Ohio, Mr. Patchen had Beatnik sensibilities but didn’t identify with Beats or anyone. I’m not crazy about some of the poems, but here are some I liked:
I Feel Drunk All the Time
Jesus it’s beautiful!
Great mother of big apples it is a pretty
You’re a bastard Mr. Death
And I wish you didn’t have no look-in here.
I don’t know how the rest of you feel,
But I feel drunk all the time
And I wish to hell we didn’t have to die.
O you’re a merry bastard Mr. Death
And I wish you didn’t have no hand in this game
Because it’s too damn beautiful for anybody to die.
23rd Street Runs into Heaven
You stand near the window as lights wink
On along the street. Somewhere a trolley, taking
Shop-girls and clerks home, clatters through
This before-supper Sabbath. An alley cat cries
To find the garbage cans sealed; newsboys
Begin their murder-into-pennies round.
We are shut in, secure for a little, safe until
Tomorrow. You slip your dress off, roll down
Your stockings, careful against runs. Naked now,
With soft light on soft flesh, you pause
For a moment; turn and face me—
Smile in a way that only women know
Who have lain long with their lover
And are made more virginal.
Our supper is plain but we are very wonderful.
30 11 / 2013
29 11 / 2013
29 11 / 2013
My fingers smell like onions. This morning was bright and a brittle cold, with pretty people all rosy-cheeked and bundled, and trees skeletal against the bright sky. I went someplace warm, to roll and knead, mash and chop, scrub and grate, and, after a time, to do the twist.
Good day for me, good day for butter and onions. Goodnight, everybody.
27 11 / 2013
Earlier I started to write about a chocolate pie, and whether or not 2x the chocolate will prove to be too much; but I left off, thinking something better might occur to me. Nothing has, and now it is well past my bedtime. So here I present a dark and mysterious photograph of a graffiti face I know and love. It is the third instance of this face that I have encountered in my neighborhood (one, sadly, is painted over already). Plus, leaves, and a green light.
26 11 / 2013
The chill in the air and the harvesty, celebratory attitude of mid-November has me eating dumplings for dinner and fantasizing about soups made with beer.
Upcoming Thanksgiving commitments allowed me to lift my temporary but frequent self-ban on weekend recipe-browsing (it too often ends up aimless and endless and ultimately mindless).
I want a waffle iron. I want to bake bread. And fry fritters. I want to stay indoors indoors indoors.
25 11 / 2013
Nigra Sum has been winding through my head for days. I can’t stop listening to it. You should listen to it. I can’t find a way that isn’t trite to describe the song.
The lyrics, I learn thanks to the Boy Choir & Soloist Directory (of course) are from the Song of Solmon:
Nigra sum, sed formosa, filiae Jerusalem.
Ideo dilexit me rex et introduxit me in cubiculum suum et dixit mihi:
Surge, amica mea, et veni.
Jam hiems transiit, imber abiit, et recessit.
Flores apparuerunt in terra nostra,
Tempus putationis advenit
Vox turturis audita est in terra nostra.
I am black and beautiful, o daughters of Jerusalem.
The king has brought me into his chambers.
We will exult and rejoice in you;
We will extol your love more than wine;
Rightly do they love you.
My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away;
For now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove is heart in our land.”
The composer is Pablo Casals, and you’ll never believe the things I read about his life. Would you believe that he was a cellist, who “was responsible single-handedly for the rehabilitation of the Bach Cello Suites as repertory pieces after he discovered a score in a bookshop in Barcelona in 1889?”
The song hits me somewhere low and deep, between the ribs, and I am for the moment obsessed with it. It sounds like it might take place inside of a Maxfield Parrish (an American contemporary of Casals) painting. All golden light, high trees and pillars, majestic ladies. &dreams, &ct.