Archive for the 'Things I saw/learned today' Category

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Why Old Books Smell Good

“Lignin, the stuff that prevents all trees from adopting the weeping habit, is a polymer made up of units that are closely related to vanillin. When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good. Which is how divine providence has arranged for secondhand bookstores to smell like good quality vanilla absolute, subliminally stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us.”

– From Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s Perfumes: The Guide

(via a perfect commotion)

Things I saw today (DOOOOM!!!)

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

via Max, this bit from Futurama has been making me laugh all day

Things I saw today (Bukowski/Waits “the gods wait to delight in you”)

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

“That’s a beauty”
Bukowski read by Tom Waits – fantastic. (via moon river)

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

– The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski

Things I read today (happiness and the people we spend time with)

Monday, September 20th, 2010

This year the keynote speaker at the American Psychological Association convention was Dr. Dan Gilbert of Harvard. His book Stumbling on Happiness is an international bestseller and his talk was about affective forecasting: Do we know what will make us happy?

He pointed out that we are hardwired from birth to be happy when we get salt, fat, sweet things and sex. Beyond that our culture provides us cues about what will make us happy…

It is the goodness of social relationships that truly makes us happy. Good relationships are the foundations for almost every measure of well being. Our immune system, our incidental sense of peace and joy, and our optimism for the future is better when we feel good about our daily social relationships. The better we feel in the social network of others in our life, the happier we are. With poor or nonexistent relationships we cannot flourish…

Choosing who we talk to, spend time with and respond to — and who we don’t — is the stuff of what Moreno called sociometry. He found that people who were able to choose their compatriots did better and survived longer.

Choosing who we want to be with, and talk to, and spend time with sounds like a no-brainer. But the truth is most people simply don’t do it. We feel obligations and play politics, and in doing so lessen the time we spend with people who make us happy…

Some people make us feel good when we are around them. I encourage you to foster, nourish and cultivate these relationships. Spend more time with those who make you feel good, and less with those who don’t. If you are responsible for assigning people, and it is possible to let them choose who to be with or where to go, do it.

So: Can other people make us happy? Yes, they can. But only if they are the right ones.
Proof Positive: Can Other People Make Us Happy? By Daniel Tomasulo

I read this after spending a lovely few days with Coralie and know for sure that this is true.

Things I saw today (I am attending the shenanigans)

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

shenanigans
I am attending the shenanigans. I shall return presently (via My Ear-Trumpet Has Been Struck by Lightning)

Things I read today (Rilke “alternately stone in you and star”)

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

night sky and trees (image via lushlight)

The sky puts on the darkening blue coat
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you watch: and the lands grow distant in your sight,
one journeying to heaven and one that falls;

and leave you not at home in either one,
not quite so still and dark as the darkened houses,
not calling to eternity with the passion
of what becomes a star each night, and rises;

and leave you (inexpressibly to unravel)
your life, with its immensity and fear,
so that, now bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternately stone in you and star.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, translation by Stephen Mitchell,

(via crashingly beautiful)

Things I saw today (cat video)

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

silly but the head turn/look on the cat’s face at the end makes me smile….


via icanhascheezeburger

lunch counter protests – Civil Rights, Rand Paul and faces and actions to remember

Friday, May 21st, 2010


(via A Short and Incomplete Civil Rights History)

I’d never seen this image of students staging a sit-in at a lunch counter in 1960s Mississippi before today but it brought tears to my eyes – both at the gloating, self-satisfied glee of some of the people pouring food and drink on the protesters and at the protestors own calm, if pained, dignity (also the blond on the left looks striking like one of our former student interns).

This image was posted at Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish as part of an on-going discussion of Rand Paul’s recent comments against the Civil Rights Act. As always, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ thoughts on the matter are well worth reading as well.

Like others I’m just staggered that someone who opposes the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Fair Housing Act has been elected in this country and has any place on the national stage. It’s easy to become disheartened and to look around and see the embrace of hates, prejudices and bigotries as a cancer in this country (and other countries) – to see the faces of those men in that picture pouring food and drink on other human beings (or just looking on) repeated in contemporary politics. I have to remember too the faces of those three protestors in that crowd – their incredible dignity and strength; their justness and their cause; their willingness to act for what they believe – and to remember that this exists now too.

Things I saw today (on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam)

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar”, every “supreme leader”, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

— Carl Sagan

(via championmess on tumblr)

update 2 May 2010
I happened across more from that same Sagan quote – absolutely wondrous, important, true.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.

Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings; how eager they are to kill one another; how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity—in all this vastness—there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the only home we’ve ever known.

The pale blue dot.

– Carl Sagan (via gizmodo “The World Would Be Better If Everyone Watched This Video“)

Just because it’s awesome (“all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us”)

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

I got the opportunity to use a quote in conversation to a colleague about a difficult work situation which a friend and former colleague once said to me at the right time:

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

– Lord of the Rings