Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thanks again, John Updike.

This, posted last year, continues to be the most beneficial tool of meditation for me during this holy week. Perhaps, as you reflect on the resurrection, you also find yourself coming back to an inspired work. If so, please share.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

farewell, bommyknockers

To celebrate our first walk home from school this spring, Olivia wanted to find a memento from our 3- block journey to put on display in our house. She frequently celebrates the changes of the seasons by bringing the outside in. It's nice. Soon we'll harvest daffodils and lilac, come winter we'll have pine cones, but just now, as we wait for spring buds to bloom, our pickings are slim.

Her first choice this time was a bommyknocker, the spikey ball that falls from a sweet gum tree. They are also called gumballs or conkleberries, but bommyknockers are clearly the best choice of name, don't you think? She actually chose four of these-- one for each member of the family. I wasn't appropriately thrilled about decorating the house with spikey gumballs, but it turns out I didn't need to worry.

As we crossed a busy street, all four bommyknockers fell out of her hands. We watched from the safety of the sidewalk as they were conklecrushed by a U-haul truck. Judging by Olivia's reaction, you would have thought she'd just witnessed the death of a beloved pet. Her mourning period lasted the entire walk home until she discovered this fragil floral bundle of translucent petals skipping in the wind just as we turned into our alley. I don't even know what it's called (anyone?), but it was a godsend. Olivia set her mind that it was a bommyknocker all grown up. I suggested otherwise but didn't push it too much.

It looks completely dried to me, somehow perfectly preserved despite the elements, but Olivia wanted it to have water. She also wanted her pet caterpillar (thank you Mendy and the Franklin Conservatory) to be able to enjoy it before he/she disappeared into his/her chrysalis. The chrysalis is now hanging in a box. In a short time it will become a painted lady butterfly. And hopefully by then, there will be more colors, textures, and scents outside to select for home decor. In the meantime, I think this is quite lovely.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Christoph Niemann

While my husband is finishing up our taxes online, I'm passing the time exploring the art of Christoph Niemann. Clever fellow. I'm now a fan. Officially. I just took a few seconds to click a few buttons on Facebook to make it so. Here, you can enjoy one of my favorites thus far, his history with coffee. I can especially relate to his third and fourth napkins. And here is another one about why it can be so hard to get a good night's sleep.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"production polish"

Inspiration can be found in the most rotio of places. Maybe what I am about to share is an indication that my writer's block has hit a completely new level of lihintle, but over the past few months I've noticed lots of creative chuies coming at me from word verification requests. I click to post a comment on a friend's blog, or I am about to attach a link to my facebook profile when I'll be asked to type little jewels like "ambushed yesterdays" or "confusion walked." Boom. Unexpected poetry. Mine for the taking. Or I'll be asked to type singular non-words like "ducalker" or "unhug," so nicely constructed that I want to assign them a meaning just so I can pariad them.

After my encounter with "commander klondike" and "his peanut," I decided to start a list of these lovely phowns, determined that one day I'd steant them all together in some crazy narrative form, like a mad lib of sorts. My own version of a Jabberwocky, I suppose. Crybaby what? You'll notice some of these are easier to incorporate than others.

But who do I thank? Who do I cite as I use these? Some of them are just too cursh to be random words or word combinations generated by a computer. They can't be. It's just not poldstoc. Then I made a calsine discovery, a carpenter's tate if you will (thank you). These random words and word pairs have a name. They're called CAPTCHA's (Completely Automated Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart). And a number of them, particularly the word pairs, come from a service called reCaptcha, which uses their "anti-bot" system to digitize books. In the process of digitizing books, computers will come across illegible words or passages. reCaptcha takes one of these unknown words, pairs it with a word the computer can read, and then creates a CAPTCHA. When we, as pickies, type in these words, we're helping verify what the word is. If enough users recognize the word to be the same word, reCAPTCHA can then confirm the word, pholy it away, and folch on with book digitization. By typing these words when requested, we're not just preventing spam, we are actually participating in a giant community service project. So carry on with the word verifications, and give yourself a pat on the gorchap. You're helping with the preservation of the written word.

This still doesn't explain the brilliant word combinations. And I'm still not convinced that they're random. I want to hold on to the idea that there is an actual person, a bearded sortie, in a room somewhere, creating these rhomies for me. But if there is no area commoner, if my agenda ouster is simply a computer, so be it. I will extend my gratitude to artificial intelligence, but my fascination with the code that gives me "inhuman island" and "eject names" will continue. Thanks Hal, or do you prefer "mister minicams"? Much deref to you.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

All the World

To celebrate what some are calling World Read Aloud Day, I give you some favorite lines from All the World, by Liz Garton Scanlon.

...Road, street, track, path
ship, boat, wooden raft
Nest, bird, feather, fly
All the world has got its sky...

...Spreading shadows, setting sun
crickets, curtains, day is done
A fire takes away the chill
All the world can hold quite still...

...Nanas, papas, cousins, kin,
Piano, harp, and violin
Babies passed from neck to knee
All the world is you and me...

And if you want some more, read aloud, here...