asakiyume: actually nyiragongo (ruby lake)
Last entry I said my thumb would be a steep climb if the lines of its print were topographical. Here now are some mountains' "fingerprints."

I was imagining a person who had the fingerprints of a mountain peak. [personal profile] sovay asked who would have these. I'm not sure, but I can imagine an egotistical jewel thief or other flamboyant criminal who would mask their own fingerprints with the prints of a mountain.

Which one though?

Mout Rainier looks good:

How about K2?

The volcano Popocatépetl has a beautiful fingerprint:

Fingerprints for the Matterhorn and Mt. Fuji are in comments (Dreamwidth comments) in the previous entry. Do you have a favorite mountain? Check out its fingerprint. You can see the fingerprint of Nyiragongo, the volcano in my icon, here.
asakiyume: (miroku)

If the lines inscribed on my hands and fingers were contour lines, what effort it would take to scale the steepness of my thumb.

thumb contour lines

asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
A couple of weeks ago at the jail, there was a new-to-me CO, B--, at the programs desk. I was heading into the room I've been using for my tutoring when he said, "You know there's a ghost up here, right?"

Usually when people tell me things like this--in any circumstance, not just at the jail--I just go along with it amiably until I can get my bearings and figure out how I'm expected to react, but this time, I couldn't help it: I said, "This jail is only ten years old, and you're telling me there's a ghost?" (I could also have said, "I've been volunteering here for more than five years, and I'm only just now hearing about a ghost?")

"They think it's maybe a child, looking for love," he said.

Even at the time, and more so now as I'm writing this down, it struck me that if you didn't think of a ghost as the spirit of someone dead but rather as a coalescing of intense feelings connected with longed-for people, that sure: there could very well be something like that hanging about. Wakanomori suggested that it could be like Lady Rokujo, whose spirit leaves her body while she sleeps and haunts Genji's lovers, only in this case, children deprived of their parents, haunting the locus of their deprivation.

Anyway, I think I said something noncommittal like "Thanks for the heads up" or "I'll keep my eyes open."

Then this past Friday B-- was there again, along with M--, one of the first COs I ever talked to, a woman I like a lot. I mentioned to her that B-- had told me about the ghost, and he said, "Oh, M-- knows all about the ghost; she's had an encounter with it."

M-- nodded emphatically.

"What was it like?" I asked.

"Well, I had just had a drink of water from my bottle," she said, nodding toward her largish clear plastic water bottle, which was on the desk, "and I felt something really cold right at my waist. I thought maybe I'd spilled some of the water on myself, but when I touched the area, it was dry. Then it started tingling. I jumped away from the desk--I just had to walk away from there. It was like a little icy arm around my waist."

"It probably knew you were a mother," said B--. "It was probably looking for comfort."

I thought about how my imagination runs in different directions: If that had happened to me, I would have been as freaked out, but it would have been because I imagined I'd gotten sudden-onset neuropathy, or worse.

Or maybe not. I'm only there for one afternoon a week. The COs are there for 40 hours a week, and the inmates are there 24-7. Ten years is young for a building, but it's a long time to collect misery. Even I've seen a thing or two, in the slivers of time I'm there. Maybe if I was in M--'s shoes, I would have intuited it the way she did.
asakiyume: (glowing grass)

Out my kitchen window (... if not elsewhere in the world), the day is made of soft and shining.

flowering pussy willows

flowering pussy willows

What adjectives is your now made of?

asakiyume: (good time)

Via Siddhartha Mitter on Twitter, and ultimately from Al-Jazeera English, this 1.35 minute video about DJ Dumpling, an 80-plus-year-old who works in the family restaurant by day and DJs in Tokyo clubs at night: here.

A still from the video:

asakiyume: (glowing grass)
I ate my lunch outside on Tuesday and saw two wasps tussling--they were locked in an embrace, face to face, and tumbling round; then they broke apart and one flew away and the other dusted itself off very carefully, opening and closing its mouth as if panting, and then it flew away, too.

I searched on "wasps wrestling" but came up mainly with high school wrestling teams... and one Youtube video that was actually of wasps, but engaged in, uh... a different kind of behavior. My wasps were definitely not procreating; it looked much more like play, or rivalry. Or maybe I'm wrong and this couple just has a more boisterous style of lovemaking.

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
In this video, a guy pours couscous over a plate and plays the edge of the plate with a bow to make musical vibrations, which then causes the couscous to move into beautiful patterns.

This inspired me to try similar, except I don't have a thin metal plate or a bow--or, right at the moment, couscous. What I do have is a cookie sheet, rice, and a saw. So!

Here's the rice on the cookie sheet:

random rice

Here it is after I shook the tray back and forth. The way I was shaking it, the rice all clustered together like a murmuration of starlings:

rice when I've shaken the sheet

Here's a roll of duct tape on the floor. I'm going to set the tray on it and then bang the saw over the top of the tray:

base for the sheet, plus saw

Here's the tray in place ...

sheet on the base

And here's how I'm going to bang the saw:

how I'm going to vibrate the sheet

And here are the first results!

after vibration (1)

Not exactly symmetrical, but still very interesting! The rice collects where the sheet is *not* vibrating.

a couple more before and after shots )

I am so science!!

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
In Princess Mononoke, Ashitaka tries to stop the assault Lady Eboshi is making on a primeval forest and the gods who live there. He's been cursed for killing a boar god who, maddened with pain and anger after Lady Eboshi shot him, turned into a demon and threatened to destroy Ashitaka's village. His cursed hand twitches uncontrollably when, upon hearing Ashitaka's story, Lady Eboshi mocks the boar god.

"Does that right hand of yours want to kill me now, Ashitaka," she asks.

"If it would lift the curse, I'd let it tear you apart, but even that wouldn't end the killing now, would it?" he replies, and she says lightly and mockingly, "No, it wouldn't. It would have to kill all of us to be at peace."

And then a bed-ridden leper speaks up. (Lady Eboshi has taken in the people whom society has rejected: lepers, prostitutes, and other outcasts--they are her strength.)

He says, "Forgive me, milady. You must not make light of the boy's strength." Then, to Ashitaka, he says,

Young man, like you, I know what rage feels like ... and grief and helplessness. But you must not take your revenge on Lady Eboshi. She is the only one who saw us as human beings. We are lepers. The world hates and fears us, but she took us in and washed our rotting flesh and bandaged us. Life is suffering. It is hard. The world is cursed, but still, you find reasons to keep living . . . I'm sorry. I'm making no sense.

I feel such intense empathy with the leper's last lines and with his attempt, weakly and without confidence, to speak up.

Ashitaka's mission was to see the world with eyes unclouded by hate, but the curse gives him supernatural killing power. Later it manifests as a twisting snake around his arm, and he shouts out,

Look, everyone! This is what hatred looks like. This is what it does when it catches hold of you. It's eating me alive, and very soon now it will kill me! Fear and anger only make it grow faster.

The truth that Princess Mononoke recognizes is that anyone can turn into a demon, even if they don't want to. Rage, pain, hatred, despair can do it.

I see this all around me. There's no one who isn't embracing a good hate (myself included, sometimes). But we have to, somehow, pull away from that, because when we become demons, everything goes down to destruction. Anyone can bandage lepers--even Lady Eboshi. Anyone can kill a god--even Ashitaka. I want us to be more in the bandaging mode. And if that sets off your alarm bells (band-aid solutions), then put in a different metaphor. Gardening mode, meal-preparing mode, coat-offering mode, stranger-welcoming mode ... but with that last, remember that we don't get to pick and choose our strangers. But who am I to speak this way. No one. I'm sorry. I'm making no sense.
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

Yesterday afternoon this dramatic sky was up above the Aquavitae portion of what's known as the Great Meadow of Hadley, Massachusetts.

I had always wanted to go down Aqua Vitae road--I remember when last the Connecticut River rose and flooded it. Some of the houses down there are on stilts (wise move).

While I was there, I noticed the narrow fields. You can see them clearly in this satellite shot, courtesy of Google maps:

The whole Great Meadow is laid out that way--a style of farming known as open meadow farming. It was common in eastern England in the 1600s, and the earliest settlers in New England brought it with them, but by and large it disappeared as a land-use pattern in the 1700s. But it survived in Hadley--in 2007, 136 parcels of land in the Great Meadow were farmed or maintained by 87 owners.1

(Image from Patricia Laurice Ellsworth, Hadley West Street Common and Great Meadow: A Cultural Landscape Study, 2007.)

Just think: 350-plus years, these fields have been tilled. Can you see the different colors of the ground? Those are the different fields.

Back in the earliest days, the Aquavitae area was planted in hay, and other parts of the Great Meadow were planted in wheat, oats, rye, and corn, as well as peas and barley. As you can see from the cut stalks, corn is still grown there. Tobacco, a crop that caught on in the area in the 1800s, is still grown there, too.

These horses haven't been here anywhere near as long. See the Connecticut River behind them? The horses were frisking with each other until I came up.

1Patricia Laurice Ellsworth, Hadley West Street Common and Great Meadow: A Cultural Landscape Study, 2007, p. 10.

asakiyume: (Em reading)

I have a good collection of things on the go/just finished.

Just Finished
The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant. It's a novel in the form of reminiscences of an 85-year-old Jewish grandmother, Addy, talking to her granddaughter, Ada, in 1985. It was delightful. The voice reminded me so much of my own grandmother's voice, even though my grandmother was Italian, not Jewish. The picture of immigrant life in Boston in the 1910s and 1920s felt absolutely genuine to me because my grandmother has said similar things. I liked Addy tremendously. Here's a quote--she's reminiscing about a camp that she was lucky to be able to attend in her teens:

It was so quiet that I could hear the bees buzzing around the roses and a bird singing from far away. Someone upstairs called, "Has anyone seen my hairbrush?" In the kitchen there was chopping. Every sound was separate--like framed pictures on a wall. I thought, Aha! This is what you call peace and quiet.

Currently Reading

Breath of Stone, by Blair MacGregor
This is the second in the Desert Rising series, a fantasy of political intrigue in a harsh desert setting, where the rulers have dangerous charisma and some are trying to recapture godlike powers that had devastating effects in the past. It's *very* gripping. I'm at about the 40 percent mark.

Ruby on the Outside, by Nora Raleigh Baskin

This is a short, middle-grade book about Ruby, a eleven-year-old whose mother is in prison. She's been a loner, but this summer she's becoming friends with a new girl, Margalit, whose family--though Ruby hasn't figured this out yet at the point I'm at--is somehow connected with her mother's case. (Seems her mother was coerced by her husband--not sure yet whether this is Ruby's father [ETA: read a little further--he's not Ruby's father]--into something drug related.)

So far the details about prison visits ring VERY true to my tangential experience, and Ruby's tentative negotiation of this new friendship feel right too. I'm only about 20 percent in; when I finish, I'm going to leave it in the free books/libros gratis rack at the jail. There's always a varied assortment there; kids really do take them. I don't know who ordinarily stocks it, or if it's all by people like me: I try to leave new things for various ages now and then.

Iris Grace, by Arabella Carter-Johnson

I won this gorgeous hardback book in a Goodreads giveaway. It's the story of Iris Grace, a child in England on the autism spectrum, and her parents' attempts to help her adjust to and flourish in the world. Art turns out to be one way: Iris loves to paint, and the book is full of full-color reproductions of her paintings. I could look at them all day, and also the loving photos of Iris herself, taken by her mother, who is a professional photographer.

As for the text, I have complicated, but mainly positive feelings. Arabella does a great job at conveying both her love for her daughter and her feelings of being at her wits' end, of arriving at something that seems to be working only to push too hard and have a setback, and then be filled with remorse. All that makes me feel warmly toward her. I guess it's just that I have a wee bit of vicarious resentment on the part of all the parents of neuroatypical children who don't have the resources that Arabella and her husband have.

Didn't Finish

The Silver Curlew, by Eleanor Farjeon

I really loved what [ profile] sovay posted about this book here, and [ profile] shewhomust has a great post on the book, too. But, for me, the book had a large helping of whimsy of a sort that I never liked as a kid and can't manage to plow through even now, even though I know there's luminous beauty in the story too.

asakiyume: (glowing grass)

The 2014 British series detectorists, about a pair of middle-aged men who search the countryside for ancient treasures, is idiosyncratic and wonderful. [ profile] wakanomori and I finished watching it a few weeks ago (it only has about 13 episodes), and I've been thinking about it ever since. It's low-key in every aspect, but indelible.

It's cinematographically beautiful: as the credits roll, close-ups of meadow flowers and insects haloed in sunlight alternate with long views of the English countryside, while Johnny Flynn sings, "Will you search the lonely earth for me / climb through the briar and the bramble / I'll be your treasure ... I'm waiting for you" (It's a beautiful song; you can hear it in its entirety here.) That tenderness of gaze is extended to the characters, too, people who would be unremarkable extras in almost any other story, but this show is about digging for what's underneath, and when you live with the characters for 13 episodes, you become really fond of them.

In the first scene of the opening episode, the two main characters, Lance and Andy, are out detecting in a field (the instrument you use when you're detecting is called a metal detector, but the people wielding it are known--at least in their own circle--as detectorists, hence the series title), and Lance finds a ring-pull from a can. He puts it in a plastic baggie with others like it. Andy asks, "What you do with them?" and Lance replies, "Pack 'em up, stick 'em on ebay. People buy this shit." "Sad tits," Andy remarks, and Lance says, "You said it." --got that? The guys who spend their spare time digging up ring-pulls are disparaging the folks who would purchase a ring-pull. I hasten to add that despite those remarks, the two are very good-hearted. But that juxtaposition is an example of the show's humor (though there's also more obvious humor).

Andy on the left, Lance on the right

From there ... small-potatoes stuff just happens, but it ends up being entirely engrossing. They confront rival detectorists who bear an uncanny resemblance to Simon and Garfunkle ...

... They get permission to detect on the land of Mr. Bishop, an eccentric who has a collection of rambunctious dogs that no one but he can see ...

and so on.

The one character I wasn't happy about at first was Andy's girlfriend Becky, who's completely uninterested in Andy's detecting hobby and who, when we first meet her, mocks him in a way that we're supposed to read as affectionate (I think), but which put me off. But eventually she grew on me, especially when she started helping them look for the location of a Saxon ship burial, and there were scenes that persuaded me that she really did love Andy. Their relationship still isn't one **I'd** want to have, but I was able to believe in it as one that was satisfying for **them**.

As for the minor characters, they were all golden, truly.

I also liked learning some detectorist lingo: "can slaw" for cans that have been shredded by agricultural machinery, "BOAT" (bit off a tractor) and "POACH" (piece of a combine harvester)--all things you might find while detecting in a field.

So, if you want something low-key, humorous, and beautiful to look at, you might give detectorists a try. (Here's a trailer for it. It's available on streaming Netflix.)
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

Anaïs Mitchell's version of "Riddles Wisely Expounded" has these questions:

“What is greener than the grass?
And what is smoother than the glass?”
“What is louder than a horn?
And what is sharper than a thorn?”
“What is deeper than the sea?
And what is longer than the way?”

And these answers:

“Envy’s greener than the grass
Flattery’s smoother than the glass”
“Rumor’s louder than a horn
Slander’s sharper than a thorn”
“Regret is deeper than the sea
But love is longer than the way”

So here is a twofold task for you. First, can you answer one or two of the following, in comments? And then, can you add a question or two of your own, on this pattern? And, if you stop by and others have already commented, feel free to answer one of their questions rather than one of these.

What is blacker than coal?
What is more slippery than oil?
What is faster than lightning?
What is more bold than a lion?
What is more fragile than a bubble?
What is colder than ice?
What is hotter than the sun?

[ profile] sovay asks,
What is sleeker than the silk?
What is harder than the stone?

[ profile] sartorias asks,
What is purer than the spring waters?
What is sweeter than blossom honey?

[ profile] pjthompson, commenting on Twitter, asks,
What is slower than an old woman's step?
What is more barren than an icebox? a cabinet of ice?**
What is more crowded than the head of a pin?

(She supplies answers too, but I want to see what you'll supply)
**I misremembered--this latter is her actual wording

[ profile] marycatelli asks,
What is earlier than a crocus?
What is later than an aster?

[ profile] pigshitpoet asks,
What is loftier than a cloud?

[ profile] cmcmck asks,
What is fouler than a swine?
What is deader than a nail
What deeper than a mine?
And what is slower than a snail?

[ profile] khiemtran proposes some questions that can all be answered with "Holyoke Voles." (This makes more sense in the context of this thread.)
Who are faster than lightning?
Who are blacker than coal?
Who are bolder than a lion?
(Yes!) It's the Holyoke Voles!

Who are sleeker than the silk?
Who are tougher than the Moles?
Who are harder than the stone?
(Yes!) It's the Holyoke Voles!

[ profile] marycatelli has a new question duo:
What is more silver than silver?
What is more gold than gold?

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

In a very-unlikely-for-me dream scenario, I was overhearing an insurance agent trying to tell a city baseball team manager one last thing when the latter had already turned to go.

"He says you're probably going to want to raise the team's insurance," I said, since I was near the manager. The manager winced.

"Call it an organization, not a team," he said. I conveyed this information back to the insurance agent, who then queried the manager about the "organization's" founding and structure.

"Well," the manager said, "the players pooled to buy uniforms ..."

I think it's very democratic and inclusive of my dream life to include things that I have ostensibly no interest in. I've just now looked at a bunch of pages that describe how baseball teams in the United States are organized, trying to see if my dream depiction bears any relation to anything. It doesn't. What I want to know is, how does a team get *started*? All I can find is about people buying teams, but at some point someone had to found a team, didn't they? WHY AM I EVEN WANTING TO KNOW THIS?!

Here is a player on the Holyoke (MA) Valley Blue Sox team. Before the Valley Blue Sox were the Valley Blue Sox, they were the Concord (MA) Quarry Dogs. That knowledge is now in my head ....



Mar. 15th, 2017 08:17 pm
asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)

The high school volunteering I do isn't actually in a high school, it's at a special program for kids who have to amass a fair number of credits in a short period of time in order to graduate, and it's on the third floor of a downtown building. It shares space with a program for adults who never got their high school diploma, who are catching up on education and passing a high school equivalency test.

The program director had these little scenes hanging on her wall. She told me they're portales--representations of storefronts doorways (but a lot are storefronts; those are the ones I especially liked)--which are a folk craft. Hers come from Puerto Rico and Ecuador.

Here are some of them up close. If you can turn yourself small, you can go into them, and you'll find yourself in the actual place. I think. I mean, it stands to reason, right?

I said it would be fun to make those for storefronts here, and she said, "Wouldn't it! And our students would love it; they're so creative. I can't tell you how many times I've written grants for arts-related things, but we never win them."

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

Irom Sharmila got just 90 votes in the election. When interviewed by K Sarojkumar Sharma of the Times of India, she said

"I knew it would be a very difficult task for me to fight a three-time chief minister in this election. I got 90 votes which I consider very precious ... Though I have been defeated, I'll continue to fight against the draconian [Armed Forces Special Powers] Act." (Source)

However, she won't be doing it through politics. "I will fight as a social activist," she said. (Source)

Good for her for trying politics, and good for her for deciding to take a different approach for now. Still cheering for you, Sharmila!

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