Saturday, December 15, 2007

Generation gap

My son Eli (14) and I went to see I am Legend this afternoon. I'm not here to review the movie, although I'll say Will Smith and his dog are ++++ and the zombies are meh.

Throughout the movie you hear Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds." That's the one that goes, "Don't worry/'Bout a thing/Cause every little thing's/Gonna be all right." At some point he tries to explain why Marley is Great to the first non-infected human being (Alice Braga) he's encountered in over 3 years. She says, "Damien?" (Marley's son, of course. And all of a sudden you really begin to appreciate the age difference between the two characters.)

So after the movie I think to educate Eli about Marley. He says, "Oh, yeah, that was that "Don't worry, be happy," song, right?

Um, no. Bobby McFerrin has considerable talent, but he's no Marley. And they're not the same. Not at all.

Try playing both songs, back to back, to appreciate the difference. Even Eli, in his oblique way, acknowledged that there might be some differences between the songs. And Eli HATES to admit that he's wrong.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I got your ice cold Nugrape

One of the benefits of being forced to use my slow and sometimes cranky old iBook is that its iTunes has some music I'd forgotten about. Like this gem from the Nugrape Twins, available on Open Source Audio: I got your ice cold Nugrape. [Note: does anyone know how I can just upload a song from my iTunes here?]

Recorded in 1926 by the Nugrape Twins, it was probably an advertising jingle for Nugrape pop, popular in the South. But what a jingle, with lyrics like these: "What's that makes your lips go flippity-floppa/When you drink a Nugrape you don't know when to stop./I got your ice cold Nugrape."

I discovered this gold nugget, by the way, courtesy of the fantastic Oxford American's 2006 music issue. I've made a point of buying the past three music issues; they're generally filled with overlooked/little known musical treasures. All having some connection to the South, of course. Sometimes I think I'm a Southerner at heart.

yada, yada, yada

Well, it's been an interesting week, to say the least. I made the final pass over the manusript and sent the approprite sections to the scientists I interviewed. Tony flew in from Geneva on Friday evening, and we had our big annual holiday bash on Saturday evening. People always ask how many people come to our party, and I honestly have to admit that I don't know. Over a hundred? And this despite the freezing rain. Eli and I took a whole lot of dead soldiers out the the curb for recycling last night, I can tell you that much.

I learned that one of my guests at the party reads my blog! (You know who you are.) I have to apologize for my momentary brain freeze when I first began talking to you.

Sunday we cleaned and went to a funeral visitation for the father of one of Eli's friends. A sad, sad thing for two teenage boys left without their dad. I suspect that the Christmas season will be rough for them for many years.

Tuesday was my birthday! Tony took me out to dinner at Bacaro, as restaurant we like a lot. I ordered an appetizer made with beef tongue, among other things. I'd never had tongue, although as a kid I'd been licked by many a calf tongue on the farm. Apparently Tony's grandfather used to make a pickled tongue regularly, so he grew up with it. Anyhow, it was DELICIOUS! So was my roast chicken with greens and mashed potatoes. How homey does that sound?

Tony flew back to Geneva on Wednesday. He's beginning to make this transcontinental travel thing look like commuting. Fortunately, he comes home for good next week. Well, for good until he goes back to CERN, but he won't be staying for such extended periods!

This week, my wonderful MacBook Pro was attacked by a Leopard--the new, super-duper operating system, that is. First the hard disk icon disappeared from my desktop, then the Finder wouldn't launch, and after an hour and a half on the phone with the Apple tech support people (who suprisingly seemed not to know about this problem, even though people were discussing it on the boards), he advised me to archive and re-install Leopard. But first I had to make room on my hard drive. And that's when I got the blank blue screen. So I took my computer to the doctor, who will hopefully make it as good as new. Words of advice? Back up your data! (I did; that's why I'm not going crazy now.) And don't get Leopard...yet. I think it's still got some serious bugs, even though I really like a lot of its features.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mathematical crochet

I'm itching to go see the Hyperbolic Crochet Reef Project, currently showing in Chicago until December 16. According to the Chicago Reader, it's a crocheted model of the Great Barrier Reef that doubles as a model of hyperbolic space.

Doesn't it just look so cool?! I'm working on an as-yet undisclosed crocheting project (Christmas is not too far away, you know) that I think will be very cool but nothing even remotely approaching this level of creativity.

Here's an interview with Daina Taimina, a mathematician who invented hyperbolic crochet as a way of illustrating certain mathematical concepts. Like this hyperbolic pseudosphere:

Here's how Taimina describes a hyperbolic space: "The easiest way of understanding it is that it's the geometric opposite of a sphere. On a sphere, the surface curves in on itself and is closed. But on a hyperbolic plane, the surface is space that curves away from itself at every point."

I love it when art meets science.