Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween


Our neighbors have beautiful porch decorations. I especially like the witch light fixture.


On Granger (one block from our house) the Ann Arbor City Council allowed (by resolution) street closing during trick-or-treating hours. Hundreds of families with small kids, teenagers, and miscellaneous adults were walking around and lining up at every door -- like this one, labeled "Bates Motel -- Vacancy." In some cases the sidewalk was almost blocked, but no one was walking in the street.


Along with the biggest pumpkins I've ever seen, the house in the photo above had some special thing going on inside with a big banner that said "Candyland." Around 40 people were lined up to get in, while others were inside and on the sidewalk.



Later Len walked around the block to Granger too. He saw a number of people with big puppets in a sort of a parade.

Over here, a block from the big action and excitement, we've had only maybe a couple hundred kids. At 6:30 I could see 30 kids nearby. Nothing like Granger, but I have almost given away my entire 10 bags of chocolate (forget about what I ate myself). Soon I'll turn off the light.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Recent reading with Kindle observations

During the past week, I have read the new Booker Prize winner, The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson -- in fact, I read it and then reread it a second time, right through from the beginning on my Kindle. I liked it a lot, and kept using the "bookmark" and "notes and highlights" features. Note, however, that the feature that allows one to see the collective highlighting of all the other wired-in readers horrified me. I turned the feature off the first time I saw it on the Kindle (several weeks ago).

Just before that, I read 36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Goldstein. I read it in a hard cover book. And on the Kindle: The World to Come by Dara Horn. Both books are about Jewish Americans by Jewish American women writers. End of similarity.

I browsed Evelyn's copy of Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter. I like the approach that everything is science, though I'm a bit skeptical of the quality of the recipes. For dinner tonight, I made something I bet wouldn't be in Geeks: a gratin Dauphinoise of the old-school type with lots of potatoes and real gruyere cheese and fresh garlic. I think that would be simplified somehow (though I might be wrong). I know most geeks would not like the hideously burned-on crust that I had to scrub off of the gratin dish. In sum: it's not my approach to cooking, but fun to think about.

I have read 25% of David Grossman's To the End of the Land, which I'm finding very depressing, though I like the Israeli landscapes. I will try to finish it. It had a good cooking scene. (I highlighted it. Maybe I will write about it on my food blog.) Note: the Kindle doesn't list page numbers, it tells you what percent of the book you have read. I'm having a little trouble with that feature.

I didn't do so well with How Rome Fell by Adrian Goldsworthy. I did not get as far as the huns -- I missed Attila. This book demonstrated to me the limit of reading on the Kindle. The maps can't be zoomed in enough to use them effectively. The footnotes might as well not be there -- the Kindle does not have hyperlinks within the book. Mainly, though, I just don't like that kind of unsocial history that goes on and on about the rulers and claims that there's not enough evidence about the way people lived. I think that the author's protests about this are self-serving. OK, he doesn't do social history, that doesn't mean it's not valid.

I read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne on the Kindle. I believe I had read it most recently when it was assigned reading in high school. Surprise: I liked it. I read The Sea Wolf by Jack London, another free Kindle book from the Public Domain. It reminded me in some ways of Moby Dick, which is plausible as London appears to have read it. The political points seemed odd. I read a few Sherlock Holmes stories, also free. Here is a fact about the Kindle: all the books look alike. Same typeface. No page design or distinctive layout. I can't decide how much these things matter.

UPDATE: We finally figured out how to go to footnotes and get back. It's not easy but it works. THe map problem still is a problem.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Canoeing on the Huron River

Today we went canoeing on the Huron River, which runs through Ann Arbor in surprisingly wild-looking banks. If you lift your gaze, you can see tall buildings and city streets on bridges above, but still have the illusion that you are far from everything. Occasional helicopters and sky-writing planes overflying the Michigan Stadium during the hugely big game also reminded us that we had not escaped civilization (or maybe that we hadn't found civilization, depends on your perspective).

Our friend Abby joined us -- you can see her red-orange kayak in some of the photos. We started at Argo canoe livery, and went 2 miles upriver to Barton Dam:


On the way back down the river, we saw a heron:



We paddled past the livery, through the sluiceway around Argo Dam, and on down past Island Park and its classical pavillion:


As we went past the Arboretum, our canoe hung up on a very shallow part of the river, and we had to get out and push it into deeper water. Luckily, it was an unusually warm day, a remarkable October day with the characteristic bright blue sky.

We ended at the Gallup Park canoe rental building, where a van from the livery picked us up and drove us back to our parked cars.

Friday, October 08, 2010

100 Years Old

Sunday is my mother's 100th birthday. She died in 1967, but I feel as if there should still be a celebration and some photos. I've already posted most of them at various times in the last few years.

First, here are some photos from the album she made when she was in high school:
The photo from 1914 is the only one I know of from her early childhood. I do not think there are any baby photos, but here is a photo of her dolls.

These were called "Nickel Dolls" because that was how much they cost. They are very small.

The next picture was taken just before she cut her hair for the first time in 1923. A cut-out of this photo is on the album page.

Here is her wedding photo, from 1941, with my father, of course:

Evelyn and Hyman

And here's a photo from a bit later:

Label on back: "The four Feldmans Aug 18, 1948." My brother was born around a year later, so he's not in the photo.

Finally, here's a photo of my mother, father, and me, in 1964.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Making Mona Lisa out of Cups: A Coincidence

Today, two friends sent me email about Mona Lisa images made of cups.

The first was 3,604 cups of coffee tinted with varying amounts of milk which have been made into a giant pixillated Mona Lisa in Sydney, Australia. I had seen it before -- it was made in October, 2009:

The second Mona Lisa was made for the Grand Rapids ArtPrize contest. The description: "520 Tiny Cups is a wall-hung installation consisting of 520 small, individually made and glazed ceramic cups in 12 different shades of grey.... When viewed up close it is just a shelf full of cups, but when viewed from a distance, the visage of the Mona Lisa appears."

I wonder if this artist was inspired by the Sydney project or by any of the enormously numerous similar projects of pixillated Mona Lisa, including a print that I have at home, an installation that used to be on a wall in Paris, and many more.

The picture:

I thank my friends Maria and Chuck for sending these images to me. I never get tired of new ways to depict Mona Lisa!