Thursday, December 31, 2009

A glorious line of work: Remembering legendary caricaturist DAVID LEVINE

Click on the title bar to read an article on the passing of pen & ink caricaturist David Levine. The video below is from last year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Handwriting Is History

A fascinating article on the present -- and future -- demise of handwriting. But we'll still want to collect fountain pens!

The Ping-Pong Prodigy

Lots of table tennis news this week. From the NY Times:

"OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — Three times a week, Michael Landers takes the Long Island Rail Road to Penn Station. He rides the subway downtown for two stops, then walks two blocks to SPiN New York, at 23rd Street and Park Avenue South, where for three hours he practices table tennis in his quest to become the best player in the United States. On the train home, he does his math homework.

At 15, Landers is the youngest player to win the men’s national singles championship. He overcame a three-games-to-one deficit in the best-of-seven final on Dec. 19 in Las Vegas, where controversy almost derailed his bid. Six of the eight quarterfinalists defaulted after protesting what they considered to be insufficient prize money. Landers was ushered straight to the final, where he defeated his higher-rated opponent, 26-year-old Samson Dubina."

Click on the title bar to read the entire article.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Taking Hold in Silicon Valley, a Ping-Pong Boom

Despite the use of the dreaded ping pong moniker, here's a link to the New York Times article that incorporates the video in the blog entry below.

"MILPITAS, Calif. — Young people who were serious about table tennis used to have to make the trip to Beijing, Stockholm or Moscow to train with world-class coaches.

Now they go no farther than this Silicon Valley suburb.

“I’m trying to become one of the greatest players in the nation,” Srivatsav Tangirala, 14, said matter-of-factly between drills at the huge new table tennis facility here. He and three dozen players, some as young as 5, sprinted sideways along the edge of the tables, 45 times in a row, perfecting their footwork.

“Lean forward, lean, lean, lean, lean!" their coach implored."

U.S.: Beyond Ping-Pong

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

If you were a kid in the 1950s, you remember...

I remember my father and my mother's mother sitting at the dining room table having their periodic "togetherness" by pasting in S&H Greens Stamps. They eventually collected enough -- 350 books as I remember -- to trade them in for a Kenwood stereo system (that my mother still had when she passed away this spring!).

Click on the title bar to see lots more photographic memories.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Bob Dylan: "Little Drummer Boy" Animated Music Video

Cover of "Christmas In the Heart"Cover of Christmas In the Heart

See the video here.

All of Bob Dylan's royalties from sales of Christmas In The Heart will be donated to Feeding America in the United States, Crisis in the United Kingdom, and the World Food Programme in 80 developing nations around the world. Dylan's initial contributions will provide more than four million meals to more than 1.4 million people in the United States, 15,000 meals to homeless people in the United Kingdom during the eight days of Christmas (December 23 - January 1) and 500,000 meals to school children in the developing world during the holiday season.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Blue Whale Song Mystery Baffles Scientists

"All around the world, blue whales aren’t singing like they used to, and scientists have no idea why.

The largest animals on Earth are singing in ever-deeper voices every year. Among the suggested explanations are ocean noise pollution, changing population dynamics and new mating strategies. But none of them is entirely convincing.

“We don’t have the answer. We just have a lot of recordings,” said Mark McDonald, president of Whale Acoustics, a company that specializes in the sonic monitoring of cetaceans."

Hear the blue whale song here.

Click the title bar to read the entire article, which is quite fascinating!

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Friday, December 04, 2009

President Obama visits here in Allentown

President Obama came to my local diner here in Allentown today. No pen sale :-), as I stopped by an hour after he left. However, they seated me at the same table that he used (I guess they just recognized royalty) :-), and I ended up having lunch with two Secret Service agents. They both got business cards, so maybe my pens will spread throughout the Secret Service!

In return, I was given a Secret Service lapel pin, which I believe entitles me to get into *almost* any Dunkin' Donuts' without a strip search.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Incredible photos from Shuttle mission

Just one of a number of beautiful photographs from the Shuttle Atlantis mission. Click the title bar to see more.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Belgian says he was alert but mute for 23 years

BRUSSELS (AP) - For 23 torturous years, Rom Houben says he lay trapped in his paralyzed body, aware of what was going on around him but unable to tell anyone or even cry out.
The car-crash victim had been diagnosed as being in a vegetative state but appears to have been conscious the whole time. An expert using a specialized type of brain scan that was not available in the 1980s finally realized it, and unlocked Houben's mind again.
The 46-year-old Houben is now communicating with one finger and a special touchscreen on his wheelchair.

"Powerlessness. Utter powerlessness. At first I was angry, then I learned to live with it," he said, punching the message into the screen during an interview with the Belgian RTBF network, aired Monday. He has called his rescue his "renaissance.""

Click the title to read the entire article

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Man vs. Electricity: Meet Dr. Megavolt

'Significant' water found on Moon

"Nasa's experiment last month to find water on the Moon was a major success, US scientists have announced.

The space agency smashed a rocket and a probe into a large crater at the lunar south pole, hoping to kick up ice.

Scientists who have studied the data now say instruments trained on the impact plume saw copious quantities of water-ice and water vapour.

One researcher described this as the equivalent of "a dozen two-gallon buckets" of water.

"We didn't just find a little bit; we found a significant amount," said Anthony Colaprete, chief scientist for the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission."

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Weave mirror

The Weave Mirror uses 768 individual strips which are woven together into a grid. As passersby walk in front of the work, motors adjust the woven strips to change the greyscale intensity of that particular X/Y coordinate on the grid. When you step back, it forms the illusion of a real-time mirror. Design by the artist Daniel Rozin's.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Islands seen from space

Just one of many photos....

Hawaiian Islands

Click the title bar to see more!

American Anthem

In honor of Veterans Day:

American Anthem

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The Joy of Flight 2

"Have you ever seen 300,000 birds move at once? Buzzfeed posted this video of a massive flock of starlings swarming together over an unspecified area in Denmark, forming a dark, shape-shifting cloud. For all the Harry Potter fans out there, it bears a frightening resemblance to a Dementor."

The Joy of Flight

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pigs Prove to Be Smart, if Not Vain

Recent discoveries from the nascent study of pig cognition offered evidence that pigs were quick learners, slow to forget and similar to humans in many ways.

"We’ve all heard the story of the third Little Pig, who foiled the hyperventilating wolf by building his house out of bricks, rather than with straw or sticks as his brothers had done. Less commonly known is that the pig later improved his home’s safety profile by installing convex security mirrors at key points along the driveway."

Click on the title to read the entire article

Friday, October 23, 2009

Soupy Sales, Slapstick Comedian, Dies at 83

"Soupy Sales, whose zany television routines turned the smashing of a pie to the face into a madcap art form, died Thursday night. He was 83.

...Cavorting with his puppet sidekicks White Fang, Black Tooth, Pookie the Lion and Hobart and Reba, the heads in the pot-bellied stove, transforming himself into the private detective Philo Kvetch, and playing host to the ever-present “nut at the door,” Soupy Sales became a television favorite of youngsters and an anarchic comedy hero for teenagers and college students.

...Clad in a top hat, sweater and bow tie, shuffling through his Mouse dance, he reached his slapstick heyday in the mid-1960s on “The Soupy Sales Show,” a widely syndicated program based at WNEW-TV in New York."

Growing up in the WNEW-TV broadcast area in New Jersey, I remember Soupy well.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Coloring this weekend

I plan on doing a lot of coloring with my pencils this weekend.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Turning Heads for 38 Years

1963 Jaguar E-Type, a classic sports carImage via Wikipedia

"The E-Type design is one of the timeless shapes in automotive history. In 1996, the Museum of Modern Art in New York focused an entire show on the car. It was called “Refining the Sports Car: Jaguar’s E-Type."

I've asked for this car for my birthday every single year. I'm still waiting.

Read the article by clicking on the title bar.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate

"More than a year after an explosion of sparks, soot and frigid helium shut it down, the world’s biggest and most expensive physics experiment, known as the Large Hadron Collider, is poised to start up again. In December, if all goes well, protons will start smashing together in an underground racetrack outside Geneva in a search for forces and particles that reigned during the first trillionth of a second of the Big Bang.

Then it will be time to test one of the most bizarre and revolutionary theories in science. I’m not talking about extra dimensions of space-time, dark matter or even black holes that eat the Earth. No, I’m talking about the notion that the troubled collider is being sabotaged by its own future. A pair of otherwise distinguished physicists have suggested that the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather."

Read the rest of this fascinating essay by clicking the title bar.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Girl, two, with IQ of 160 praised for 'wonderful imagination'

A two-year-old girl has been found to have an IQ of 160, making her among the top 0.03 per cent of the population in Britain.

"Karina Oakley was asked to question numbers and complete challenges in several different categories, including verbal ability, memory, handling a pencil and numbers and shapes.

Some of the answers showed a "wonderful imagination", according to Prof Joan Freeman, the child psychologist who used the Stanford-Binet IQ intelligence test.

When asked, 'What do you use your eyes for?' Karina answered: 'You close them when you go to sleep' and then also said: 'You put your contact lenses in them'.

Karina, from Guildford, Surrey, has an IQ 60 points above the mean for the population.

Prof Freeman said a score of 160 was rare, but was not unheard of. The test goes up to 170.

Her mother, Charlotte Fraser, who previously worked in marketing, and her father, Nick, a computer programmer, said their daughter had a very good memory.

Her mother said: "Quite a lot of people had said to me that Karina is quite smart, quite bright, quite clear with her speech and quick to pick things up.

"So I looked Prof Freeman up on the internet, and gave her a call to see if she would see her and get her tested. It was just a bit of fun really."

She added: "She seems to be quite aware of her surroundings, what's going on around her, she is very observant, she talks all the time, asks questions all the time.

"The nature verses nurture argument is a very interesting one.

"I have stayed at home with her for almost three years, I have always talked to her a lot, always tried to answer her questions, we do a lot of things, we go to the park and we are part of various groups. That must make a difference.

"I do not know whether it is that, combined with something that she was born with."

After the test, the professor concluded: "Karina is a lovely, responsive and friendly little girl. She is more than very bright and capable, she is gifted."

She added: "Karina enjoyed the test. The pleasure she took in the mental challenge in itself I have found to be a sign of intelligence."

Another two-year-old girl, Elise Tan-Roberts, from Edmonton, north London, was recently found to have an IQ of 156. She can count to 10 in English and Spanish and recite the phonetic alphabet. She could also name 35 capital cities."

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Two-year-old girl with IQ of 156

A two-year-old girl has become the youngest member of Mensa with an estimated IQ of 156.

By Chris Irvine
Published: 7:02AM BST 30 Apr 2009

"Elise Tan-Roberts was five months when she spoke her first word, calling her father "Dada". She was walking three months later and running two months after that.

Before her first birthday should could recognise her written name and by 16 months she could count to 10. She is now able to do the same in Spanish.

Inspired by the story of Georgia Brown, who also joined Mensa when she was two, her parents Louise and Edward, from North London, took her last month to see Professor Joan Freeman, a specialist education psychologist.

After Elise completed a 45-minute IQ test, Prof Freeman concluded in a written report that Elise was "more than very bright and capable - she is gifted."

Only those with an IQ of 148 and above, the top two per cent, qualify for Mensa. The average IQ is 100. For a child her age, Elise is in the top 0.2 per cent.

Her father, a 34-year-old motor consultant, said: "Our main aim is to make sure she keeps learning at an advance pace.

"We don't want to make her have to dumb down and stop learning just to fit in. But she's still my baby. I just want her to be happy and enjoy herself."

Carol Vorderman has an IQ of 154."

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Two-year-old with same IQ as Einstein

Season 10 saw the first of Stephen Hawking's t...Image via Wikipedia

Oscar Wrigley, a two-year-old with the same IQ as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, has become the youngest boy in Britain to be accepted into Mensa.

By Chris Irvine
Published: 8:00AM BST 10 Oct 2009

"Assessors at the Gifted Children's Information Centre in Solihull said Oscar, with an IQ of at least 160, is one of the brightest children they have every come across.

He has been ranked in the 99.99th percentile of the population and has been ranked off the scale as the Stanford-Binet test cannot measure higher than 160.

Oscar's father Joe, 29, an IT specialist from Reading in Berkshire, said: "Oscar was recently telling my wife about the reproductive cycle of penguins.

"He is always asking questions. Every parent likes to think their child was special but we knew there was something particularly remarkable about Oscar.

"I'm fully expecting the day to come when he turns around and tells me I'm an idiot."

Mother Hannah, 26, told The Daily Mail: "He amazes everyone. We knew at 12 weeks he was extremely bright. He was unusually alert."

Mrs Wrigley, a housewife, added: "His vocabulary is amazing. He's able to construct complex sentences.

"The other day he said to me, 'Mummy, sausages are like a party in my mouth'."

Dr Peter Congdon, who assessed Oscar, said he was a "child of very superior intelligence".

"His abilities fall well within the range sometimes referred to as intellectually gifted. He demonstrated outstanding ability," he said.

John Stevenage, Mensa's Chief Executive confirmed Oscar had been accepted aged two years, five months and 11 days.

"Oscar shows great potential. Converting that potential to achievement is the challenge for his parents and we are delighted that they have chosen to join the Mensa network for support", he said.

The youngest British child to join Mensa is Elise Tan Roberts, from Edmonton, North London, at two years, four months and 14 days, with an IQ of 156."

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A Quest to Read a Book a Day for 365 Days

"Last Oct. 28, on her 46th birthday, Nina Sankovitch read a novel, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog,” by Muriel Barbery. The next day she posted a review online deeming it “beautiful, moving and occasionally very funny.”

The next day she read “The Emigrants,” by W. G. Sebald, and the day after that, “A Sun for the Dying,” by Jean-Claude Izzo. On Thanksgiving she read Peter Ackroyd’s biography of Isaac Newton; on Christmas, “The Love Song of Monkey,” by Michael S. A. Graziano; on July 4, “Dreamers,” by Knut Hamsun. When seen Friday, she was working on “How to Paint a Dead Man,” by Sarah Hall. She finished two more over the weekend when her family (husband; 27-year-old stepdaughter; four boys ages 16, 14, 11 and 8) traveled to Rochester for her in-laws’ 60th wedding anniversary."

Click the title bar to read the rest

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Albert Lea Tribune | Editorial: Why Bob Dylan deserves a Nobel

Albert Lea Tribune | Editorial: Why Bob Dylan deserves a Nobel

On Thursday, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature was announced. Will the Swedish Academy finally acknowledge that it’s possible to create art within the parameters of popular culture?

Reacting to the claim made by academy member Horace Engdahl that American literature is provincial, the Danish professor Anne-Marie Mai chose to announce publicly that she had nominated Bob Dylan for this year’s Nobel Prize in literature. In the same breath, she noted that many of her colleagues had done the same.

Mai writes in the Danish newspaper Politiken that Bob Dylan has at once returned poetry to its tonal and musical source and transformed poetry into a form of artistic expression that speaks directly to our contemporary world.

The history of the Nobel prize is full of bad decisions. It’s a catastrophe that theater jack of all trades Dario Fo got the prize in 1997, while Ingmar Bergman never did. Fo made an impact on the theater world, but he’s no great writer; Bergman wasn’t just a poet of the cinema, he was also a great wordsmith. And that must be a criteria for the literature prize: whether a given nominee is good with words.

I’m glad that the Swedish Academy at times excavates neglected authors, as they did last year with J.M.G. Le Clezio, or when the totally unknown Polish poet Szymborska got the prize in 1996.

But if the Nobel Prize in Literature is to retain its significance, then it must go to a writer with cultural value that reaches beyond the confines of academia.

— Aftenposten, Oslo,Norway, Oct. 7

Which Makes the Better Writer: the Hand or the Keyboard? Age Is a Part

"05 October 2009
AA: I'm Avi Arditti with Rosanne Skirble, and this week on WORDMASTER: we talk with an expert on children and handwriting.

RS: Virginia Berninger is an educational psychology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. She tells us about a study which found that children sometimes do a better job as writers when they compose the words by hand than when they type them on a keyboard.

VIRGINIA BERNINGER: "And this was a chance to follow over two hundred children -- it was about two hundred forty -- longitudinally, once a year for five years. And I looked comprehensively at writing development. And what we found, which was very surprising to us, is that they wrote longer essays, they wrote the words faster. And, in the paper just published, they wrote more complete sentences in fourth and sixth grade when they were writing in handwriting by pen than when writing on keyboard."

Click the title bar to read the full interview

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Crash test: 1959 Chevy Bel Air

Think those big hunks of steel from our automotive past are safer than today's 'plastic' cars?

"The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a unique crash test to demonstrate the advances in motor vehicle safety over the last 50 years. In this test, a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu and a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air are both going 40 mph and the vehicles collide offset, driver side to driver side. This is the same crash configuration represented by the Institute's 40 mph frontal offset barrier test, which is used to rate the frontal crash performance of new cars."

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Monday, October 05, 2009

A Little Luxury to Honor India's Man of Modesty

Gandhi Loyalists Appalled by $23,000 Commemorative Pen

By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, October 3, 2009

NEW DELHI, Oct. 2 -- Images of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the father of modern India and an icon of asceticism and nonviolence, have ended up in some unlikely places before, including in ads for Apple computers and on counterculture T-shirts.

But it's fair to say that the latest incarnation may be the most ironic: Gandhi, in his signature loincloth, hawking a $23,000 fountain pen named in his honor.

The limited-edition Montblanc fountain pen in 18-carat solid gold is engraved with Gandhi's image and tricked out with a saffron-colored mandarin garnet on the clip and a rhodium-plated nib. Unveiled in honor of what would have been Gandhi's 140th birthday on Friday, the pen has prompted howls from Hindu groups and Gandhians, who say the sticker price is the lifetime income of many of India's poor while the Center for Consumer Education in the southern state of Kerala has sued to stop sales of the pen, calling it "a mockery."

Click the title bar to read the entire article

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Dunhill Fighter Provenance Fountain Pen

by Jared Paul Stern

"The new Fighter Provenance Fountain Pen from London-based luxury goods firm Dunhill does not take its name in vain: the limited edition writing instrument is made from the original aluminum engine casing taken from the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine of the legendary World War II Spitfire MK1 fighter plane. Produced in very small numbers due to the scarcity of the material, the pen's details also reflect this iconic aircraft - the bolt and rivet effects in the original aluminum; the tapered edges echoing the aerodynamics; and a window feature on the side of the barrel displaying level of ink and even the pen clip design directly references the shape of the spitfire propeller. The cap is also created using plexiglass which is exactly the same material used for the bubble canopy of the late 1930's and early 1940's fighter planes."

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kasparov leads Karpov 3-1 in chess rematch

"Garry Kasparov stretched his lead over Anatoly Karpov to 3-1 Wednesday on the second day of an exhibition chess match commemorating the 25th anniversary of their marathon first title bout.

Karpov, 58, won his first game of the unofficial tournament, which is being played in the eastern city of Valencia after Kasparov abandoned the game. Kasparov, 46, rebounded to win the second game as Karpov ran out of time.
On Tuesday, Kasparov won the first two semi-rapid games as Karpov struggled to manage his time.

...The two men waged one of the sporting world's greatest rivalries when between 1984 and 1990 they met five times for the world championship and pretty much drew even: Kasparov won 21 games, Karpov took 19 and they drew 104 times.
The first title bout started in Sept. 1984 in Moscow and lasted nearly five months before it was halted with no winner declared on the grounds that both were exhausted.
Kasparov won a rematch in 1985 and captured his first world title, at age 22, becoming the world's youngest-ever champion.

Kasparov is considered by some to have been the best player in chess history. He retired from top-level professional play in 2005, after dominating the game for two decades."

Click the title bar to read the entire article.

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Evolution can’t be reversed, research suggests

Modern protein became non-functional when scientists reversed changes

"In a kind of evolutionary bridge-burning, once a gene has morphed into its current state, the road back gets blocked, new research suggests. So there's no easy way to turn back.

...Their results, detailed in the Sept. 24 issue of the journal Nature, reveal that over long time scales, certain genetic blockades arise that make it nearly impossible to transform a modern protein into its ancestral state, even if ancient environmental pressures were to exist.

"This is the best demonstration of the molecular foundations of evolutionary irreversibility that I have ever read," said Michael Rose, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in the current study."

Click the title bar to read the entire article

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Umberto Eco: The lost art of handwriting

The days when children were taught to write properly are long gone. Does it matter? Yes, says Umberto Eco

Author of 'The Name of the Rose' says "The crisis began with the ballpoint pen. Handwriting no longer had soul, style or personality."

Click the title bar to read his entire article.

Life magazine on Google Books

Google books has now completed scanning all issues of Life magazine, and they're now available for free here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bob Dylan to Exhibit a Simple Twist of Paint

NY Times
Compiled by DAVE ITZKOFF
Published: September 16, 2009

“Someday,” Bob Dylan sang, “everything’s gonna be different when I paint my masterpiece.” Is this different enough to qualify? Nearly 100 paintings by Mr. Dylan, an artist better known for his throat than for his palette, will go on display next year at the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen, Reuters reported. ...The exhibition, to open in fall 2010, will include the premiere of 30 acrylic paintings from Mr. Dylan’s “Brazil” series,” as well as paintings from his “Drawn Blank” series that were shown in Britain and Germany. A representative for Mr. Dylan told Reuters that he did not know what the new paintings would depict or how Mr. Dylan chose the names of his series. In a statement the museum’s chief curator, Kasper Monrad, said, “Bob Dylan’s visual artistic practice has only been discussed by art historians to a limited extent, so critical examination and interpretation are called for.”

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bucky Fuller back!

no original descriptionImage via Wikipedia

I finally found another online source for the incredible 42 hours of video left to us when Buckminster Fuller was asked to tell us "Everything I Know". I'd linked to these videos on another host for years, but they were eventually taken down. I'm so excited that they're back!

One of my real lifetime highlights was attending a weekend symposium with Bucky at the Harvard Science Center back in the late 70's, when I was in my early 20s. I'd already read just about everything he'd ever written and thought that I was going to meet the 'mind of the planet'. I came away learning that I'd met the 'heart of the planet'. (Some of my earlier thoughts can be found in the essay 'Heroes Still' linked to the right).

I realize that it's a major commitment of time and mental energy to watch all of these videos...and it may take awhile for some to become familiar with his New England accent and self-created vocabulary. It's worth it. Think of it as a year-long course (just watch an hour a week) that will greatly expand your knowledge and view of how the world works. He was truly a 20th Century Renaissance man, and we've been given a tremendous gift by the preservation of these video records.

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My Pen

Ever felt like this about your pen?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Senator Kennedy remembered

A remembrance at Senator Kennedy's memorial service at the Kennedy library from former Iowa Senator John Culver, a classmate of Kennedy's at Harvard, that brought great laughter and tears.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Computer program helps decode ancient texts

By Eric Bland
updated 4:14 p.m. ET, Thurs., Aug 27, 2009

"An ancient, indecipherable text from the Indus Valley region is slowly being decoded with the help of a computer program, according to recent research.

Though it has yet to decrypt this mysterious language, the program may help to decipher other ancient texts whose meanings have been long since forgotten.

...Roughly 5,000 seals, tablets and amulets, filled with about 500 different symbols, were created somewhere between 2600 and 1900 B.C. by a people living in the Indus River Valley. "

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A nib in action

An interesting side view of a Pilot nib, flexing in action! Who said we didn't have an exciting hobby!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Miniatur Wunderland -- largest model railway / railroad in the world

Growing up, my next-door neighbor had a similar set-up (a bit smaller). I spent many wonderful hours there as a child.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Elvis Presley - Can't Help Fallin' in Love -- with fountain pens!

Hmmmm. The 'King' and fountain pens. Since we share crowns, and the same birthday -- January 8th -- perhaps there *is* a connection! :-)

Friday, August 14, 2009

You're Bob Dylan? NJ police want to see some ID

Aug 14, 6:29 PM (ET)

"Rock legend Bob Dylan was treated like a complete unknown by police in a New Jersey shore community when a resident called to report someone wandering around the neighborhood.
Dylan was in Long Branch, about a two-hour drive south of New York City, on July 23 as part of a tour with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp that was to play at a baseball stadium in nearby Lakewood.
A 24-year-old police officer apparently was unaware of who Dylan is and asked him for identification, Long Branch business administrator Howard Woolley said Friday.
"I don't think she was familiar with his entire body of work," Woolley said.
The incident began at 5 p.m. when a resident said a man was wandering around a low-income, predominantly minority neighborhood several blocks from the oceanfront looking at houses.
The police officer drove up to Dylan, who was wearing a blue jacket, and asked him his name. According to Woolley, the following exchange ensued:
"What is your name, sir?" the officer asked.
"Bob Dylan," Dylan said.
"OK, what are you doing here?" the officer asked.
"I'm on tour," the singer replied.
A second officer, also in his 20s, responded to assist the first officer. He, too, apparently was unfamiliar with Dylan, Woolley said.
The officers asked Dylan for identification. The singer of such classics as "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Blowin' in the Wind" said that he didn't have any ID with him, that he was just walking around looking at houses to pass some time before that night's show.
The officers asked Dylan, 68, to accompany them back to the Ocean Place Resort and Spa, where the performers were staying. Once there, tour staff vouched for Dylan.
The officers thanked him for his cooperation.
"He couldn't have been any nicer to them," Woolley added.
How did it feel? A Dylan publicist did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Friday."

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A fun little animation entitled 'Pen'.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Zombie ants controlled by fungus

"In a bizarre parasitic death sentence, a fungus turns carpenter ants into the walking dead and gets them to die in a spot that's perfect for the fungus to grow and reproduce.

Scientists have no clue how the fungus takes control of the brains of ants so effectively. But a new study in the September issue of the American Naturalist reveals an incredible set of strategies that ensue.

The carpenter ants nest high in the canopy of a forest in Thailand, and they trek to the forest floor to forage. The fungus, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, prefers to end up on the undersides leaves sprouting from the northwest side of plants that grow on the forest floor, the new study showed. That's where temperature, humidity and sunlight are ideal for the fungus to grow and reproduce and infect more ants."

Read the full article on MSNBC by clicking the title bar

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dolphin Speak Relies on Brevity

"Among the words we use most often, short ones like "I," "a" and "the" top the list. It turns out we're not the only ones who strive for this type of efficiency in the way we communicate. Dolphins, found a new study, do it, too.

It's the first evidence that another species follows one of the basic rules that defines all human languages: the law of brevity."

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Bookworm Abstract series of fountain pens -- Part 2

A couple of thoughts I left out of part 1! :-)

Bookworm Abstract series of fountain pens

Bookworm has come up with another winning design in the Abstract series of pens. The cap and barrel are lacquer-over-brass design and the pen has a sleek torpedo-shape overall, with a colorful midsection.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

1000 Awesome Things

With the world seemingly rushing toward oblivion ('twas ever such), it's good to remember those small things in life that bring a bit of know, those awesome things:

Sleeping with one leg under the covers and one leg out
Placing the last piece of the puzzle
Locking people out of the car and pretending to drive away
The smell of gasoline

These are just four items picked from a wonderful website -- a winner of the 2009 Webby Awards -- that "Launched last year and counting down with a new awesome thing every weekday." As I write this, they've gone from #1000 and are down to #716...Rubbing someone’s newly shaved head.

Read more, and add your own in the comments section, by clicking on the title above. It's awesome!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mourning the Death of Handwriting

From the upcoming issue of Time magazine.

"I can't remember how to write a capital Z in cursive. The rest of my letters are shaky and stiff, my words slanted in all directions. It's not for lack of trying. In grade school I was one of those insufferable girls who used pink pencils and dotted their i's with little circles. I experimented with different scripts, and for a brief period I even took the time to make two-story a's, with the fancy overhang used in most fonts (including this magazine's). But everything I wrote, I wrote in print. I am a member of Gen Y, the generation that shunned cursive. And now there is a group coming after me, a boom of tech-savvy children who don't remember life before the Internet and who text-message nearly as much as they talk. They have even less need for good penmanship. We are witnessing the death of handwriting."

Click the title to read the entire article.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Twibes fountain pen 'poem'

The founder of Twibes, a Twitter application, asked me to submit something on their new blog about the Fountain-pens Twibe I started recently.

If you're interested in joining the Fountain-pens Twibe, where you can share Twitter tweets with other collectors, please go to or here.

LRO Sees Apollo Landing Sites

"NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has returned its first imagery of the Apollo moon landing sites. The pictures show the Apollo missions' lunar module descent stages sitting on the moon's surface, as long shadows from a low sun angle make the modules' locations evident.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, was able to image five of the six Apollo sites, with the remaining Apollo 12 site expected to be photographed in the coming weeks."

See the other sites by clicking on the title bar.

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