zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
The subject line is a chant from Chicago's March for Science. This photo is from this morning's march in Nashville:

March for Science Nashville

It was taken by a woman whose mother had knitted the hats; she was there with her grandson, who worked toward getting a selfie with the dog as we chatted:

boy at March for Science Nashville

I've posted a cross-section of photos to my Twitter account (@zirconium). I'll add some more later, but I actually do have a grant application deadline to meet.
zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
Nitro ice cream demo

The need to catch up on sleep and housework quashed most of my original plans for today, but I did head to Adventure Science Center for the tail end of Summer Science Day, getting there in time for the Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream demo. It was entertaining watching some of the kids creep closer and closer to the stage, yearning to touch the magical fog (and the educators diligently warning them back lest they get burned):

Nitro ice cream demo
Nitro ice cream demo

The ice cream mixture was pretty crunchy at first (solution: add more milk), and bent the first spoon used, but eventually there were two batches -- plenty to go around, and I heard more than one parent telling their kid to not go up for seconds until everyone had gotten firsts:

Kids enjoying ice cream

The 2:30 screening in the planetarium was of Natural Selection: Darwin's Mysteries of Mysteries. A copy of The Origin of Species is on display in the exhibit From Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs:

From Wolf to Woof

The film is lush, and I especially liked the classroom-lessons-on-cardboard scenes, which included a PAC-MAN noshing on circles with spines. On the other hand, the narrative seemed jumbled and erratically paced to me; perhaps all the hopping between different graphic styles and storylines was meant to cover multiple learning styles and attention spans, but I'm still shaking my head at the caveman with the guitar (even though I'm sure some of the other audience members thought it was hilarious when said caveman casually socked a blue-footed booby with the guitar handle).

I started to assemble a blueberry pie Sunday night, but ran out of evening and energy. It's a good thing blueberries keep. Back to it now, and to pickling peppers, too.
zirconium: Photo of Joyful V (racehorse) in stall (Joyful Victory)
1. My poem Spelling "For Worse" is up at Goblin Fruit, in both text and audio formats.

1a. I am keeping right fine company on that TOC. :-)

2. Merrie Haskell wrote a novel called Castle behind Thorns. It's about to emerge, it has earned a starred review in Publisher's Weekly, and it will be a Junior Literary Guild selection. (Her second published novel has been collecting recommendations and awards, too, including "the 2014 Schneider Family Book Award winner for middle school for its depiction of a person with a disability.")

3. The Velveteen Rabbi will be reading her poetry in Jerusalem. I am so excited for her!

4. Making manuscripts reader-friendlier. Go me!

4a. Having the chops and experience to recognize typos (especially in Spanish) I wouldn't have caught five years ago.

5. Ripe cantaloupe and canned quail eggs. For when one works flat through dinner and then needs something that doesn't require cooking (i.e., stink up the kitchen) right before bedtime.

6. The sumo tangerine I picked up at a store last week. It was an indulgence, but it was also a great conversation piece, and I am about to candy the peel.

7. Having a dog that gleefully hoovers up vegetable scraps. (I am less enamored of her fondness for snacking on potting soil, but that's because it makes her wheeze.)

8. It is sunny and 55 F here right now. I'll be spending most of the day with spreadsheets, but I think I'll first sneak out for a walk.

9. Particle Fever! (And yes, I wore my CERN jacket to the showing.)
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
Paris (17 November 2011)

"Roman numerals probably retarded the progress of mathematics for centuries." - Fred C. Hess, Ed.D., CHEMISTRY MADE SIMPLE (Doubleday, 1955)

(On the previous page: "Don't be frightened by numbers. Mathematicians have helped us greatly by giving us numbers that are very easy to work with.")
zirconium: photo of ranunculus bloom on my laptop (ranunculus on keyboard)
As an indexer and copyeditor, I have a professional interest in how classification systems are maintained and how people agree on names (for each other, for categories, and for stray-items-that-aren't-easily-summarized-but-ARE-too-important-not-to-show-up-somewhere-in-the-index [she types, grinning]).

...which means I was captivated by the feature article in issue 22 of Allen Press's FrontMatter newsletter: Taxonomy Goes Digital: Nomenclatural Codes Embrace Online-Only Publication. It discusses some of the ways taxonomic names can be established -- that is, how plants, animals, algae, bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other organisms are formally labeled. (Put another way: if you want your name for a newly discovered or discussable critter to be recognized officially -- the better to talk about it with everyone else -- you have to publish and register the name properly [i.e., blogs and Facebook don't count, and until last year, neither did online-only journals]. Until I read this article, I hadn't given much thought to how the process was regulated, even though I'm excavating terminology wormholes all the time in my line of work. [You say vernacular, I say jargon, let's play rochambeau...])

It mentions the Global Names Architecture project, which it describes as "an attempt to compile information about names and help reconcile two major problems: some species have more than one name, and some names are applied to more than one species." (The GNA website looks fascinating. I am charmed by the parenthetical "the strings that serve as" in the second sentence. Some other week...)

Also on names: over at her blog, Mary lists the women mentioned in 100 Diagrams that Changed the World.
zirconium: animated gift of cartoon woman flailing (gravity)
Google Doodle in Bohr's honor

Jim Ottaviani's Suspended in Language, one of my favorite comic books.

Not often in life has a human being caused me such joy by his mere presence as you did.
    - Albert Einstein, in a 1920 letter to Bohr

"A Particular Truth - 1941" - my sonnet about Bohr and Heisenberg (first featured in Contemporary Rhyme; republished in Measured Extravagance)
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
Joanne tells the audience about polar bears
Joanne tells the audience about polar bears.

Mary, Joanne, and I presented some of our poems at the downtown branch of the Nashville Public Library yesterday morning, in the beautiful West Reading Room. The room is also where the monthly Shakespeare Allowed gatherings take place, so between that and March Madness, it would have been foolish to start with anything other than "Practicing Jump Shots with Shakespeare."

The rest of my set (all from Measured Extravagance):

Playing Duets with Heisenberg's Ghost
Schrodinger's Top Hat
The Language of Waiting
Deep and Crisp and Even

I'm now kind of kicking myself for not including "Proportions" and "Shehechianu," but truth be told, I found myself powering through an (atypical) attack of nerves, so ending the set at ten minutes (instead of fifteen) seemed the more prudent course of action while I was at the podium.

I'm enormously grateful to the friends who attended the event -- thank you all so much for making time for it, amid so many other choices! It was also thrilling to discover that we'd caught the interest of strangers: we were a Critics' Pick in this week's Nashville Scene, and Liz mentioned being asked about the reading while riding the bus.

Joanne's posted some photos and notes as well.

Mary Alexandra Agner

Mary read primarily from The Scientific Method, and offered "My Mother Was a Mad Scientist" cards:


Other pleasures of the weekend have included:

* Time with Mary and her sister. We walked to Little Hollywood and back, tried a vanilla marshmallow at Provence (said mallows are huge -- one was sufficient for three people), admired the felt vines at Retropolitan ...

* A Friday night gathering with Joanne's household. She brought potato salad and spinach salad; the BYM picked up pork shoulder and cornbread from Jack's; I made two pitchers of sangria, a plate of devilled eggs, and a bowl of blue cheese slaw. Good eats and good times.

* A note from Houseboat -- they'll be publishing two of poems this week.

...and, there's more to share, but it's time to head to church. Here's wishing each of you a happy start to your week.
zirconium: animated gift of cartoon woman flailing (gravity)
I was stuck in traffic yesterday afternoon. The upside to this was hearing NPR's story on, among other things, why it takes so long (i.e., eight years) for a spacecraft to land on Mercury:

[Maria] Zuber says the answer is gravity. Mercury's orbit is closer to the sun than the Earth's, and if you launch a rocket toward the sun, the sun's gravity is going to cause your spacecraft to speed up.

So ... [Messenger] used the gravity of other planets to slow it down with respect to the sun. In a trajectory worthy of Rube Goldberg, Messenger looped once around the Earth, then made two close encounters with Venus. When it arrived at Mercury in 2008, it was still going too fast, so it flew by Mercury three times, slowing down a little more each time. "The fourth time it came by Mercury it was slowed down enough that when we fired the main engine, Mercury's gravity field was able to capture it," says Zuber. Messenger has been orbiting Mercury since March 2011.

I need to remember this story the next time I'm taking six detours to get from A to B.
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
From things that make me happy

Chemistry Kitty!

There's a competition through April 2 for answers to "What is a flame?", seeking descriptions that "an 11-year-old will find intelligible and maybe even fun." It's also canvassing for 11-year-olds to act as judges.


[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith, who will be featured on this blog on April 20, has opinions and observation about publishing models for you to ponder.

I am far from a purist when it comes to prosody, but Lehman's prediction + clarification on why Obama and not Santorum will carry the electoral college -- let's hear it for the true double trochees!
zirconium: Photo of cat snoozing on motorcycle on a sunny day in Jersualem's Old City. (cat on moto)
I visited Beale Street three times on my recent trip to Memphis. The first was in broad daylight, around 3 pm on a Thursday afternoon. There was already music blaring, and a drunken boor bellowed "Where ya from?" at me from his sidewalk seat (and then laughed with his friends as if he had said something funny). But there was also the pleasure of winter sunshine on old walls...

Beale Street

...and watching an artist with her paints:

artist on Beale Street

[I'll post about the other two visits some other time. In the meantime, say hi to the Hugs Bison. :-) ]

[Also, I am 8/8 in predicting the WTA quarterfinalists at Indian Wells. I'm going to revel in this moment, since the only sure thing about my ATP bracket is that it's going to be trashed one way or another after tonight.]


zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)

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