16 June 2008 | Morning details
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
— Martha Graham
Here are some early-morning, reference photographs I took today of bits ’n’ pieces found in the overgrown, empty lot next door.
14 June 2008 | Peking peep show
This 1869 photograph by John Thomson is from the collection of the Wellcome Library in London. A Manchu man and girl are taking in a traveling peep show. The photo was taken in Peking, Pechili Province, China (when it was still Peking).
The Wellcome collection is another treasure trove of images that I only just have begun to explore…
When I go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
14 June 2008 | Overheard
As promised, here are some additional choice quotations and exchanges from the construction workers putting a hole in the side of our abode:
“Next questions is, who’s got balls enough to get it up there.”
“I can do it right or left, it don’t matter to me.”
“I don’t want anyone gettin’ hurt, especially on the head.”
A: “If that falls on me, I’m gonna hit you upside the head.”
B: “If it falls on you, you ain’t gonna be able to.”
A: “You were looking up my skirt. Tell the truth.”
B: “I had my eyes closed.”
A: “You were looking up my skirt.”
(Two guys talking)
I don’t spend my day eavesdropping, really, I don’t.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
— Mark Twain
13 June 2008 | Lost in space
Nothing like looking at highly-detailed images of another planet to make me feel infinitesimally tiny…but in a very good way.
The web site for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter currently has 6,137 high-resolution images of the Martian surface available for exploration. According to the Planetary Data System (did you know we had one of those?), HiRISE has released over 26 terabytes of data. The images below are from some of the observations taking place between 20 March and 24 April 2008.
To say that this is a small sampling is an understatement of planetary proportions. These snippets are from the June release of images and I only have looked at the first twenty-three of fifty pages.
Below, they were looking for “change due to mass wasting on scarps of different slopes”. I didn’t know what a scarp was before today, even though I have seen them (here on Earth).
Did you know that a barchan was a crescent-shaped dune? One of the things I love about the HiRISE pages is that many have very detailed descriptions. Click though on the image below for more information on the barchan and,
I am guessing, its smaller relatives, the barchanoids.
Update/correction: Turns out that a barchnoid is not the smaller relative of a barchan, but rather is a transitional form between barchans and dunes…the nuances that come from specializations. “The transition is much more gradual…from barchans to barchanoids, to barchanoids with increasing slipface lengths, to dunes with barchanoid characteristics like crescentic slipfaces and tails, to dunes with irregular slipfaces, to more or less two-dimensional dunes.” [Source] Also, there is an article (PDF) on the geology of sand dunes by John Mangimeli that has some nice illustrations.
Each of the images above is linked directly to its HiRISE page where you can find specific information about the observation and download various versions of the data. I gravitate to the RGB color, non-mapped versions, as shown here.
[Update (26 May 2012): I did not mention in the original post that the images you can download are ridiculously-high resolution and extraordinarily-detailed. I’m just sayin’.]
As a technical note, many of the images are stored in the JPEG2000 format and are very high resolution. During my time lost in the Library of Congress earlier in the week, I came across LizardTech’s ExpressView browser plug-in/viewing application. It handles both MrSID and JPEG2000 files. The plug-in and application come in the same download (as least for Mac OS X). [Update (26 May 2012): LizardTech no longer supports Mac OS X.]
For a final bit of perspective, an observation from 3 October 2007:
That’s our home and our moon seen from the orbit of another planet.
Source for all images: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona HiRISE
Would you not like to be / Sitting on top of the world with / Your legs hanging free…
— Dave Mathews Band, Proudest Monkey
12 June 2008 | Antique microscope slides (with specimens)
Skin of Blow Fly, Moth Lithocolletes cramerella and Spiragle Larva of Cockchafer.
Back in the fifth grade, I had a wonderful biology teacher, Mrs. Bosert. I have very distinct memories of staying after class to look through the microscopes at squiggly little creatures zipping across the field of view.
A few years ago, I came across two sites with deep collections of Victorian-era prepared microscope slides. Individually, each slide has its own interesting elements — specimens, labels, nomenclature, &c. As a group, they are a fascinating and beautiful slice of the history of science and discovery.
While I have shown fifteen, between the two sites there are well over five hundred slides to peruse.
P.S. I would love to see them as larger images also. The subject of “Victorian microscope slides”is now entered on the standing research list.
And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.
— Donald Miller