Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dancing Bedazzled Peacocks: a Tale of Recycling

Because my sister is much more dutiful about recycling than I (it requires going places), one or both of us drops by the recycling pickups at nearby Emory university which is where we saw a poster for an Indonesian music and dance performance. This is why recycling is a good thing to do.

I had never seen Indonesian dance before, aside from a stylized ballet presentation of a Balinese princess in a San Francisco production of Cinderella, and only ever heard a gamelan in a Cirque du Soleil show, so I was very excited about seeing a new and different thing presented in a traditional cultural context. 

Gamelans are huge.  I would not be terribly interested in being a player (any one part of it seems likely to become mindnumbingly tedious, but altogether it is fascinating both as a spectacle and as an amalgamation of simple melodies and rhythms into one oddly peaceful and soothing experience. 

The dancers left me in a cloud of glitter envy.  Some of them had bedazzled peacock headdresses.  I wanted them.  Beyond that, I am in awe of their thighs and fingers.  Balinese dancer is performed with deep knee bends, almost constant head slides and tilts, and finger things I can't even begin to describe. Fortunately, there is always youtube. The dancers showed us a traditional greeting dance that involved strewing flowers, a warrior dance with much manly posturing, and one dance in which the dancer brought various audience members to the stage to dance with her.  Always a lovely thing to do.  Chihaya tried her kuchi pudi hands at it and did a quite passable imitation. 

After the show, the audience was invited to talk to the performers and try their hands at playing the various pieces of the gamelan, which was delightful.  Apparently you have to mute everything with your hands right after you play it because it resonates so much that the sound rapidly becomes muddy.

It was a delightful evening.  This is why going places to recycle is worth the effort. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Caturday Post: Tamerlane, Suspicious User of New-Fangled Inventions

It took him a few weeks, but the world-conquering sword has discovered his heated kitty basket:
Back in my day we were gods.  People nowadays...

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Fabulousity: Hobbiton Style Circular Door

Good morning!  Behold my dream door:
From a hotel restaurant in Nainital.  Could be a problem for wheelchairs/other mobility aids, but one could also make this the side door, not the front door.     

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Poetry Tuesday

While you decline to cry
High on the mountainside
A single stalk of plume-grass wilts.
         -Ō no Yasumaro

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Caturday Post: Scaramouche, Still Master of Concealment

He is very helpfully helping with the assembly of a new lamp by sitting in the shade.  It is also possible he considers himself a light bulb. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Fabulousity: The Endless Entertainment of Electromagnets

For all your walking on the ceiling needs, see Hackaday:

The craftsmanship seems to be at a high level, although I am not trained in the use of power tools.  But all the pieces fit neatly together and the all the connections are tidy, just like a good piece of clothing.  I like watching craftspeople at work.   I might need some ceiling walking in my training exercises.

Here's the main making-of video from the Hackaday site:

As Oersted, Ampere, and Maxwell said  
\[ \nabla \times \mathbf{B} = \frac{4\pi}{c}\mathbf{J} +\frac{1}{c} \frac{\partial \mathbf{E}}{\partial t} \] That is, the magnetic field B generated around a wire (the curl \(\nabla \times \mathbf{B} \)) is proportional to the sum of the current density J and to the change in time of the electric field E!  This equation encapsulates a whole boatload of exciting math, as well as being almost unbelievably beautiful and tidy!   We have no a priori reason to believe that the universe is (sometimes) so tidy, but sometimes it is.   Oh, and if you have enough J you can walk on the ceiling!   (The \(\partial \mathbf{E}/\partial t \) effect is usually pretty small compared to gravity on Earth.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Poetry Tuesday

niwa hakite
idebaya tera ni
chiru yanagi

I'll sweep the garden
before I leave--in the temple
The willow leaves fall.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day After Caturday Post: Scaramouche. Adopter of New Technology.

In today's edition of my cats having better lives than me, Scaramouche now has a bed which has pressure plates and a heater in it, so when he climbs in, it becomes warm.  Also, it comes in leopard print, so he can have even more delusions of grandeur than he already does. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

(Late) International Blasphemy Rights Day

I totally missed the day this year: September 30, 2015:

International Blasphemy Rights Day, held each year on September 30, is a day to show solidarity with those who challenge oppressive laws and social prohibitions against free expression, to support the right to challenge prevailing religious beliefs without fear of violence, arrest, or persecution.

Any idea, including any idea of god(s)(esses), should be open to the challenge of evidence.  An idea that fails to match up to testable reality should have no power to force compliance to its accompanying rites and taboos.    

Banned Book Week 2015

"We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers."
                                                             -Carl Sagan, Cosmos