Sunday, May 27, 2012

Let's Get This Garden Started

Special Delivery from Quad-Man! "Your potting soil, ma'am!" Flowers and herbs only. Don't know how I'd cope with a renegade zucchini this year; our CSA is keeping us over-supplied with veggies.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dirt Face

My son dug two holes in the garden plot this morning. The mound of dirt goes right where the nose should be. I could have moved the rake to make a Hitler-stache but that would have felt contrived. And besides, it would have changed the original intent of the artist. Maybe he's combing his beard of morning glory sprouts?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Waiting

There are beauty perks while I wait for ballet class to finish.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hedy's Folly

Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the WorldHedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World by Richard Rhodes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More than any other aspect of this book, I enjoyed learning about how the "most beautiful woman in the world" decided she would contribute to the WWII war effort -- beyond working at the Hollywood Canteen and selling war bonds (not that she wasn't wildly successful at both of those efforts, too).

Teaming up with an avant-garde musician named George Antheil, Hedy Lamarr designed a frequency-hopping guidance system for torpedoes. Coming from an intellectually stimulating environment in Vienna between the First and Second World Wars, it seems Hedy was rather bored with Hollywood and spent many evenings alone, inventing at her drafting table. Author Richard Rhodes also covers Hedy's other inventions, including a kind of bouillon cube that when dropped into a glass of water created instant soda pop. She got funding for that idea from Howard Hughes!

It's a good thing for us that Hedy was bored in Hollywood: while the US Navy never used her invention in their torpedoes, her frequency-hopping technology is the basis for the wireless communication that we are so enthralled with today.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Memory

It’s layer upon layer. And the great misconception about memory is based on the belief that it’s possible to go back beneath the layers and pull one out, intact.

“The fact of the matter is, you can’t get back to your past,” says William Hirst, a professor of psychology at The New School. In his research, Hirst focuses on how what we do or don’t remember is influenced by the context in which we’re remembering—where we are, and, more important, who we’re talking to.

“You’re constantly shaping your memory,” says Hirst.


--"The Daily Beast" Ben Bradlee's Memories and the Science of Forgetting by Casey Schwartz

While I'm not terribly interested in Watergate or politics, I am fascinated by the human mind. I recently read a Julian Barnes novel that hinges on the middle-aged protagonist's memory of a break-up with a college girlfriend. In the heat of the moment, he writes a blisteringly malevolent letter. Years later, he remembers the incident as a mere blip on the radar screen--until he reads the letter that he wrote as a young man. He is shocked. Did he really write those words? He doesn't remember being terribly upset by the whole thing.

It started me thinking about my memories, both good and bad. Did it really happen the way I remember it? Have I slowly reconstructed reality to fit my version of the story? "The truth and nothing but the whole truth." What is that?

So, I've added a new book to my growing "to be read" stack: "A User's Guide to the Brain" by John J. Ratey, M.D. Not that I think a purely biological understanding of the brain will ever tell us about the concept of truth, but it can't hurt to understand how the little grey cells work.