Archive for June, 2008

Bloomin’ details*

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While T. and I were at the Bot Garden on Saturday, I also (like you had any doubts) took flower photos (and other stuff, duh!). I’m guessing there are quite an assortment, botanically speaking, of plants I’d term “water lilies,” and this is one. Heck, maybe it’s a weird papyrus or something, one of the other floral inhabitants of the reflecting pool…. I hope the file-size management strategies I’ve employed with Photoshop haven’t totally obscured the fine contrasting-colored veins and other luxe features of this gorgeous bloom….

* Hey, where’s my hand lens (better than bifocals…) for examining these botanical subtleties.

Cake de b-day

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This may be the perfect summer b-day cake*: frosted with whipped cream and decorated with strawberries, plus more berry chunks between the layers!

* I didn’t make it, so no recipe….

Art and vegetation

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Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that I’ve added another section under topics—Sculpture in Motion. At the invitation of my buddy, T., we spent the morning tiring ourselves out wandering the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and checking out the special exhibit of kinetic sculptures.

I have made separate pages for each of the sculptures we saw (however did we miss Ralfonso’s piece?), so there’s quite a pile of clicking and reading, if you’re interested.

Start by clicking here!

Thanks, T., I had a ball!

Stepping out

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From the archives…. Those used to be my favorite sandals.

Kirk Varner, a friend of JCB’s, recently observed:

I’m not sure I can trust anyone who doesn’t have something they are reading next to their bed. I don’t know exactly why, but I think anyone who actually uses that part of the body that Manager Jimmy Dugan so aptly called “That lump three feet above your ass” (As played by Tom Hanks in the movie “A League of Their Own”) for anything other than a place to park some headwear, should have something…anything…they are reading next to their bed.*

Some time ago I realized that our closest friends all are registered to vote and do so (at least as far as I know). I didn’t consciously make that a requirement for friendship. The book thing is trickier: I think I have several friends who aren’t bedtime-readers. They aren’t allergic to reading, but they have a different pattern to their reading….

My bedtime reading is usually a pile rather than a single title. Usually mysteries predominate. Right now, there’re four titles in the pile, and a couple others lurking on standby (e.g., McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men—I’m waiting for the right mindset to dive into that one…).

1) Peter May’s The Critic (2007). May is a Scotsman who lives in France; his main character is a Scotsman investigating the murder of an American in the Gaillac region of southern France. May imparts plenty of wine-knowledge, a lovely extra.

2) Theodor Bestor’s Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World (2004). Recommended and loaned to me by MM. Fascinating. It’s about Tokyo’s famous fish market. Sales every morning of fish—fresh, frozen and live—from around the world.

3) Agatha Christie’s Mrs. McGinty’s Dead and They Do It with Mirrors (1954 republication from a London book club). Christie is classic; what more can I say?

4) Ferrol Sams’ Down Town: The Journal of James Aloysius Holcombe, Jr. for Ephraim Holcombe Mookinfoos (2007). On loan from father-in-law. Haven’t started it yet.

Whatchu reading?

* Kirk’s accompanying photo of his own near-bed zone is priceless.

Framing the past

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Old crappy snapshots tend to fade (love the contrast of the permanence of digital photos!), and this one is rather exceptional in that regard. It was probably printed at Ye Olde Drugstore, or somewhere similarly less than sterling.

I find the frame especially endearing. I don’t know where the frame came from, but Mom put this photo of her mom in it. Grandma loved blue (or was it pink?—actually, maybe it was pink!), so I’m sure she would have liked it. All the flowers are made with little pieces of glass*; I forget what the technique is called. Hmm. Maybe Grandma herself got the frame in Europe, perhaps Italy (it’s small, maybe 2 x 3.5 inches). I’ll have to ask Mom next time I’m with her.

* Are the glass pieces tesserae as on the piece we saw last year at the Corning Museum? Does that make the frame decoration a mosaic or micromosaic?

Plant periodicity

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I took this picture last spring, in northwest Georgia. I think it’s wheat. I guess that would make it…winter wheat. I think.

Dated date

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Archaeologists commonly monitor pollen types in sealed (buried) horizons—well, if the project has sufficient funding for it. From the pollen, you can discern things about the climate, the season the material was buried, etc. Only in unusual circumstances do we find seeds. Archaeologists found date palm seeds at Masada (yes, the fortress built by Herod around 35 BC and destroyed by the Romans in AD 73), and one is now three years old and more than three feet tall! (Science link, too.)

Grad students…

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Have you ever heard of Paul Otlet? I hadn’t. This NYTimes story by Alex Wright is fascinating.

Otlet (pronounced ot-LAY—French, right?) lived in the early 20th C and envisioned a global network (réseau) “that joined documents using symbolic links.” Of course, at his Mundaneum, begun in 1895 in Mons, Belgium, all he had were (clumsy) analog machines, which became bogged down in all the paper (index cards; Really!) he used to store the data. He toyed with this problem, eventually deciding “the ultimate answer involved scrapping paper altogether.” Sound familiar?

The Nazis came through Belgium in 1939, and destroyed many of the boxes of index cards. Poor Otlet died in 1944. Some cards survived, however, and a young grad student rediscovered them in 1968, and has lead a (long, slow) resurgence of interest in Otlet’s work.

Today, the new Mundaneum reveals tantalizing glimpses of a Web that might have been. Long rows of catalog drawers hold millions of Otlet’s index cards, pointing the way into a back-room archive brimming with books, posters, photos, newspaper clippings and all kinds of other artifacts. A team of full-time archivists have managed to catalog less than 10 percent of the collection.

The archive’s sheer sprawl reveals both the possibilities and the limits of Otlet’s original vision. Otlet envisioned a team of professional catalogers analyzing every piece of incoming information, a philosophy that runs counter to the bottom-up ethos of the Web.

And the picture? Oh, that’s from years and years ago when I was over in Athens working on my Master’s and an undergraduate in a journalism photography class recruited my friend Adam and me to do some jumping for one of her assignments, so she could get some action shots. À la covering a basketball game, I assume. We did so much jumping we got a bit silly.

Bronze babe

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I thought I’d do a somewhat historical post today, so I did a search through our well-over 30K digital pictures and only one had been taken on a June 16th. And that’s since 2002!

So I needed another idea. This photo’s from Piedmont Park earlier this spring. Pensive. I like the mood.

Not a particularly good snapshot, I know….

Scaling life*

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JCB brought home this miniature (aka toy), although the body shop says we’ll have the Prius back “like new” this week….

* After all, at what scale does life play out? Some ideas under Phase 2/Braudel heading here….