Monday, June 29, 2009

Books are not "On Demand" material

I was reading this article on today, and my inner bookstore lover rebelled. Perhaps I am too set in my ways, but the idea of buying a paperback book "on demand" is not my idea of fun.

I like books. I like the way that they smell, the way that they feel. I like browsing through book stores to find just the right edition of the book I want. (I don't like many mass market paperbacks; the font is too small.) I like stumbling across attractive covers to find an unexpected literary friend. I like opening books I have already read and rereading favorite passages in the middle.

When I actually start reading the book, I like to make notes in their margins and correct typos that I may find. If they were previously owned, I like to think about the person who read the book before me, especially the books that I inherited from my grandparents’ houses. (You won't find me reading a book from a Kindle any time soon.) Lastly, I like to hug them when I am done.

When I was about 10 or so, my family went on its annual summer vacation to Ocean City, MD. The second day we were there, I got a horrible ear infection (I was prone to these) and was taken to the walk-in clinic, where swimmer's ear was diagnosed. I was told that I couldn't go swimming for the rest of the trip. No ocean, no pool. I was very upset. The only thing that made it bearable was that my mom took me to the bookstore and loaded me up with the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drews and bought me a special bookmark with a rainbow on it. (Gotta love the 80s.) I read through all of those books (plus the ones I had brought with me,) and we had to make a second trip to get me more to read. My love for reading had begun long before that trip, but I think that time really cemented for me my love of hunting through the bookstore for just the right thing.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"I Think I'll Go For a Walk Outside"

Sometimes, it really is worth it to leave the office at lunchtime. Eating at your desk only goes so far. It is especially worth it when the long absent sun decides to put in an appearance after over a week of rain and clouds.

Killian Court, MIT

Copley, from Killian Court, MIT

Memorial Drive, Kenmore in the distance

Especially since the sun seems to have gone away again. At least, it has acknowledged that it still exists.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bringing Things Into Focus

One of the things I really like playing around with on my camera is the focus and depth of field. I had an interesting time on Saturday shooting snaps in my parents' garden in Connecticut.

White climbing roses

White climbing roses

Foxglove Foxglove

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge

Despite the poor weather forecast, Saturday turned out to be a gorgeous day, so I took myself and my new camera over to Mount Auburn Cemetery. It is such a beautiful and peaceful place (and a perfect example of the change in funerary customs at the end of the 19th century in America and Britain, ie. my imaginary PhD thesis.) I spent a couple of hours tooling around the cemetery listening to my audio tour and snapping photos here and there of things that caught my eye.


Pond and Water Lilies

Ironwork fence


Mary Baker Eddy

Trees & Monuments

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Speaking the Queen's English

When my Sister K doesn't understand something I have said, or, more often written (eg. in email), she asks me if what I was saying was "in British", because she doesn't "speak British".

Well, I guess I DO "speak British".

Tonight, I was casually looking at a new book by Phillip Pullman that I had purchased from and immediately focused in on the word "wrench" on the first page. My brain did the immediate translation - "spanner". I thought, "Something is wrong here. That word should be 'spanner.'" Hmmm. I flipped to the first few pages to find, sure enough, "First American Edition." Ha, knew it.

I still find it funny to glance back through the earlier Harry Potter books, which are translated into American English (the later ones aren't, for the most part.) It is funny reading the word "sweater", which I know would read "jumper" in the English edition. Lorry, lift, roundabout - my brain makes the adjustments. What I didn't realize is to what extent it has become unconscious.

They say that you will know when you are proficient in another language because you will sometimes dream in that language. I wonder if, tonight, I will dream of spanners, torches, and jumpers.

"One giant leap for mankind..."

Apollo: Reflections and Lessons

In one of the more cool things that has happened to me since I started working at the 'Tute, my colleagues and I were invited to attend a portion of the programming of "Giant Leaps", the 40th anniversary celebration of Apollo 11 landing on the moon. We got to go to an interesting symposium, and we saw Neil Armstrong yesterday in person. SO COOL, and I don’t even like NASA or the space program.

It was interesting to hear these gentlemen talk about the political climate in the 60s surrounding their work and what the race to the moon really entailed in terms of building the technology. Space travel still was a big deal when I was young. I remember watching the space shuttle take off several times with my elementary school classmates. When the Challenger exploded, Sister Irene made an announcement over the school PA, and we spent our lunch time in her homeroom watching the news footage. That was the first time I remember seeing a newscaster (Dan Rather) get upset.

(A lot of people took photos during Neil Armstrong yesterday, and I didn't have my camera. But I remembered it today.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fun Times at the 'Tute

Photos from the 143rd Commencement of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, held on Friday, June 5, 2009.


Killian Court

Killian Court, stage

The academic regalia really brightened up the day.


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