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I am entranced by Abelardo Morell‘s photography with the camera obscura.

Brooklyn Bridge -

He transforms his subject room into a camera obscura by blocking all light except for a tiny hole. As light enters through the hole, it projects an upside-down image on the opposite wall. Morell uses a prism to inverse the image, then leaves his camera in the room with the shutter open. It’s a camera within a camera, you see.

Morell’s other photography is equally mesmerizing, particularly Books & Maps and Tent Camera, which is like the camera obscura but projected on the ground and roofs instead of rooms.

It takes me back to fourth grade art with Mrs. Tolleson, when we built a camera obscura to watch the solar eclipse, inciting in me a lifelong love of stellar phenomena. Perhaps Katie Pearl is too young to appreciate it now, but the day will come when we build one in the backyard, I assure you.



Tonight marks a high point of the Perseid meteor shower for North America. Get out your binocs and a lawn chair, hope the clouds part long enough for you to see a good show, and enjoy with a nice glass of something tasty. You should end up with lots of wishes granted. If you’re into that sort of thing.

Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to plant their feet firmly on the surface of the moon.

That is frickin’ unbelievable.

MoonLanding_072169Alaska had been a state for ten years.
You could still spend a halfpenny in England.
The Beatles were still together.
Sesame Street was a fresh new kids’ show.

For millennia, people had been standing on earth, looking at the moon. It may as well have been a trillion miles away for how accessible it was. And yet on that day, people watched on television as two guys walked around on it. I can’t imagine witnessing anything in my life as world-changing as that. I need to go talk to Aunt Pearl about it …

A note: Finding a good word is not to be confused with getting a good word, which is Christian for, “someone shouted something Biblical at me that I needed to hear.”

The good word for today is velleity.

I discovered this word a few years ago and swore to incorporate it into my regular usage, but – and this is truly the height of irony – my dedication to doing so was evidently inferior to my desire to do it. It’s the height of irony because the definition of velleity is just that: the desire to do something that is outweighed by the effort that must be put into actually doing it. It means wishing something without putting forth the effort to pull it off.

I suspect, however, that velleity is not intrinsically bad. The connotation is negative, to be sure (my velleity keeps me on the sofa all weekend rather than out doing something constructive), but I bet there are some things it’s okay to let go of in this fashion. Maybe.

Look at this.


Click on it and look at it bigger.

The yellow ball is the sun. The two specks in the bottom left quadrant are the space shuttle Atlantis and the Hubble Telescope. They were in front of the sun for 0.8 seconds and this guy snapped it. Unbelievable photograph.

See more of this guy’s work here. I want to be friends with him.

If you watch the NASA channel as intently as I do, you know that the shuttle Atlantis is about to dock with the Hubble telescope. The astronauts are making final repairs on Hubble that will allow it to function for a few more years, after which point it will fall out of orbit and most likely burn up in the earth’s atmosphere.

Spend some time on the Hubble image gallery. Sure, the colors are digitally enhanced, but it’s just beautiful.




I’ve been known to pick up an eclectic assortment of library books.

ritualsExhibit A:
The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners by Margaret Visser

What I’ve learned:
“The Latin word for a hearth or fireplace is focus. [Sorry for not learning that in 10th grade, Mrs. Sullivan.] … The French word forĀ  a household is a foyer, literally, a ‘hearth.'”

“[In many cultures, both ancient and modern,] if a woman decides to stop cooking for her man, or if he refuses to be fed by her or insists on cooking for himself, the breakdown is an outward signal of a serious failure in their relationship … In Assam, south of Tibet, if a family member is furious enough to refrain from eating with the household for a whole twenty-four hours, the dissension is extremely grave. If he then decides to cook separately, he is taking an irreversible step; it must be followed by his building a new house and by a splitting up of lands and property. This is a terrible rite of rejection called ‘the throwing away of the cooking pots.'”

“In some African societies … [the husband’s] avoiding the food in any particular wife’s dish is a deep insult, ritually suggesting that he suspects her of trying to poison him.”

It may be a cop-out for not writing a real blog entry today, but I just saw this video and am still laughing.


The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar has got an issue with the word “got.” In other news, there’s a Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.

Thanks, Jay.

cellI learned an amazing thing last week. When you were conceived, you spent the first half-hour of your life as a single cell. As my friend Rodney said, “Even God thought it was so amazing that He had to stop and admire it for a full thirty minutes.” Wow.