Tales from outer turnip head...

Tales from outer turnip head...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Muffins, posts count, a closing...

The Beginning: On September 7—with the start of the school year—I began an experiment for myself: write something every week on Sunday regardless of how creative or not I was feeling. Write regardless of whether there was an audience on not. Write to try to sort out the jumble of "stuff" in my head sometimes. It turns out that writing is harder than just making time for it. It is hard to do well (I've had only a few moments in the last year that I really like). It turns out that having a small audience helps. Any more and I might feel too self conscious, any less and I might bag on the writing all together and find another outlet, assuming no one would notice. It turns out that sorting the "jumble of stuff" has helped me a lot...

Summer Break: This my 42nd post, and will be the last until next september. Summer is for beaches, hikes, sleeping in, and eating out; making home movies; watching New York tourists; reading Graphic Novels, and watching HBO television. Summer is about college baseball, and this year's Women's World Cup Futbol. Summer is a time to reinvent my focus and refine my old way of doing. Summer is a time to let the jumble settle. It is my least favorite season, but it allows for so much that is not my usual bread and butter. What a nice contrast!

Today: Today is Father's day. My daughter greeted me with a tentative grimace. She informed me that she was working on a second batch of muffins for me, as the first batch got 1.75 cups of water, not the required .75 cups. While she was working on the second batch my wife was adding Bisquick to the first batch in an experimental attempt at muffin recovery. Meanwhile I had come upstairs to work on this post and heard quiet crying a few minutes later. It seems that the second batch went into the oven without the required 2 eggs. The half cooked batch was removed, rejoined, egged, separated, and returned to the oven. Such sadness over a loving impulse to make a special breakfast for me. The care is not in the quality of the muffin, but in the desire to give...

Growing up is tough... but can also be exciting...
How can we make cakes without cracking a few eggs? How can we learn to be chefs if we cannot make mistakes? How can we learn to get up if we never fall down?

In Season 4 of The Legend of Korra, the Avatar is suffering from the anime equivalent of PTSD. She asks the healer of her village "And ... what am I going to find if ... I get through this?" Katara, the healer, answers "I don't know. But won't it be interesting to find out?"...

Taking Count: Writing this blog has felt like falling down and getting up. It has felt like experimenting with muffins. It has been... interesting... and exciting so far. With 42 posts (what an auspicious number) I have cleared 2500 views. (This is post 43. By the way, I have become interested in the number 43 recently. It seems to be occurring a lot in odd places in my life. I don't ascribe any importance to that except that I keep seeing it. I will return to 43 next fall, for certain.) If I had to pick what people stumble across if they find their way to this blog, the following is today what I choose...

Top Viewed Posts:

My Favorite Posts not already listed elsewhere in this post (*):

Hard Work:

Series on Graphic Novels Started in December:

Series Anchored with T.S. Eliot's Poetry:

Sunday, June 14, 2015

1943: Aqualungs, Russians, and Electricity...

Each of my mini wikipedia entries below has interest to me. I am not sure what to do with any, if at all but "thinking on blog" is the game of my Sunday mornings. Stay tuned...

Invented in 1943: From wikipedia: Aqua-Lung[1] was the original English name of the first open-circuit, self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (or "SCUBA") to reach worldwide popularity and commercial success. This class of equipment is now commonly referred to as a diving regulator[2] or demand valve. The Aqua-Lung was invented in Paris during the winter of 1942–1943 by two Frenchmen; the engineer Émile Gagnan and Naval Lieutenant ("lieutenant de vaisseau") Jacques Cousteau.

In 1943, they made the film Épaves (Shipwrecks), in which they used two of the very first Aqua-Lung prototypes. These prototypes were made in Boulogne-Billancourt by the Air Liquide company, following instructions from Cousteau and Émile Gagnan.[2] When making Épaves, Cousteau could not find the necessary blank reels of movie film, but had to buy hundreds of small still camera film reels the same width, intended for a make of child's camera, and cemented them together to make long reels.[3][4]

Manufactured in 1943 (Designed in 1891): From wikipedia: The Mosin–Nagant (RussianВинтовка МосинаISO 9Vintovka Mosina) is a 5 shot, bolt-actioninternal magazine-fed, military rifle, developed by the Imperial Russian Army in 1882–91, and used by the armed forces of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and various other nations. It is one of the most mass-produced military bolt-action rifles in history with over 37 million units produced since its inception in 1891, and much like the AK-47 it has shown up in various conflicts around the world, despite its age.

Died in 1943: From wikipedia: Nikola Tesla (Serbian CyrillicНикола Тесла; 10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was a Serbian American[3][4][5][6] inventor, electrical engineermechanical engineerphysicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.[7]
Tesla gained experience in telephony and electrical engineering before immigrating to the United States in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison in New York City. He soon struck out on his own with financial backers, setting up laboratories and companies to develop a range of electrical devices. His patented AC induction motor and transformer were licensed by George Westinghouse, who also hired Tesla for a short time as a consultant. His work in the formative years of electric power development was involved in a corporate alternating current/direct current "War of Currents" as well as various patent battles. Tesla went on to pursue his ideas of wireless lighting and electricity distribution in his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs and made early (1893) pronouncements on the possibility of wireless communication with his devices. He tried to put these ideas to practical use in his ill-fated attempt at intercontinental wireless transmission, which was his unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project.[8] In his lab he also conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging. He also built a wireless controlled boat, one of the first ever exhibited.
Tesla was renowned for his achievements and showmanship, eventually earning him a reputation in popular culture as an archetypal "mad scientist".[9] His patents earned him a considerable amount of money, much of which was used to finance his own projects with varying degrees of success.[10]:121,154 He lived most of his life in a series of New York hotels, through his retirement. He died on 7 January 1943.[11] His work fell into relative obscurity after his death, but in 1960 the General Conference on Weights and Measures named the SI unit of magnetic flux density the tesla in his honor.[12] Tesla has experienced a resurgence in interest in popular culture since the 1990s.[13]

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Three Poems about "Choice"...

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening: My 2015 seniors graduated yesterday. They represent the first class that perhaps signals the start to the second half of my career. It was a genuinely lovely day, great weather, smiles and cheering, well written and delivered speeches... I get weird on these days, feeling a deep relief as those I watched for years are delivered from my portion of watchful care, but also feeling sadness as I have to let go. The best part of their journeys are just beginning and for the most part I am left here to try to take ownership of another young bunch next year. My school swims in the small pond...

The Armful: There is no way to hold on to all of them, and they need us to let go long before we actually find the strength to do so. Yet so many of my hours are spent with and for them. Sigh. I get to teach around 3000 different souls in my career. I get to learn from 3000 different attempts at success, and I get to learn from 3000 different mini teachers who never cease to surprise and inspire me with their journeys. After around 1500, I am starting to forget names and blur stories. I try to keep it all straight in my head, but it's all starting to slosh around somewhat. But no matter how elusive those memories are, or solid, each has helped make me what I am today, and that is a pleasant thought...

The Road Not taken: Some years ago I was asked to teach 8th grade in addition to my usually 9th and 10th grade fare. I have also been afforded the opportunity to have several classes that draw 11th and 12th graders. Two young ladies managed to get slotted into my room for five consecutive years starting in their 8th grade. I have joked that this will lead to their immense need for prolonged therapy, but it is merely my preemptive joke that I worry they missed out on other, maybe better, experiences while doing time in my room. (See, there I did it again.) In reality I feel grateful for those special relationships that go beyond teacher/student and approach mentor/mentee or life coach/apprentice. (There were others in this graduating class who I taught three and four times, and with this class that crazy possibility is done). They have become such interesting people (they always were to give full credit). I have to steel myself to remain patient to learn about what paths they might choose...

I do take some sense of solace that I get to visit over the years with those who return one way or another. The meetings are sometimes a little awkward as my grown-up charges realize that they have grown up and that their teacher of old swims in such a small pond. But their realization is such an amazing perspective gift. The digital landscape offers additional paths to bump into each other as we tool around our lives. Pictures shared from world travels; observations on life and news and love and loss. No matter in what form, these meetings after the graduations... I love those little moments...

Robert Frost is one of my poetic loves, and I love to offer advice to students when I can. I found a blog entry by another writer that offers three Frost poems as a collection on "choices". This is what I wish for all my departing charges; choices to make decisions and find a path that is most helpful, enjoyable, productive, and fulfilling... I offer this New Englander's wisdom as a parting lesson for the class of 2015...

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

The Armful

For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns—
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with, I will do my best
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road.
And try to stack them in a better load.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.