Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Review "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming" by Mike Brown

     The night sky has never been so fascinating as when seen through the eyes of Mike Brown, planetary astronomer at the California Institution of Technology in his book "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming".    Mr. Brown managed to convey the scientific actions and ideas involved in the discovery of new objects in space in such a readable style that we neither yawned nor fell asleep during the course of devouring this book.  He chronicled the controversy surrounding the demotion of Pluto in a very understandable manner.  He also relates the saga of astronomical tension regarding the discovery and naming of the large object now known as Haumea.  His passion for his work comes through clearly and caused us to bookmark his website so that we can check back occasionally to see what future escapades he will have, confident that he will handle them with the grace and style epitomized in this book.
     On another, more human level, "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming" also tells the story of how entering into parenthood impacts one's life.  It is amusing, and charming, to see how his scientifc mind strives to observe, document and quantify many aspects of the newborn's days and nights.  Mr. Brown created a blog, which contains an incredible accounting of the details, both joyful and otherwise, of the beginning of a new life.    Eventually the author discontinued his careful upkeep of the log, but at this writing the blog is still there for us to view.  It reminds us of when we ourselves were caught up in the throes of new parenthood...and makes us giggle at his obsession in putting those details in graph form.  For those of us who had trouble keeping up a simple baby book, his fatherhood blog can bring back the joy and chaos of the early days of our own offspring.
     We found "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming" on the New Book Shelf of our library and hereby declare it to have been a delightful discovery.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Opportunities Abound

     One very exciting website is  Pop over there and look at the wide variety of projects people have dreamed up.  Kickstarter provides a platform for creative types to explain what their visions look like---and also provides the structure within which viewers (like you and me) can give a little support if we find one that particularly calls out to us.  Pledges can be made in any denomination, (as little as a dollar) and no funds are collected unless total pledges amount to the dollar amount requested by the artist/performer/project doer.  It might even give you hope (and inspiration) for a dream that's been forming in your own creative brain.  I particularly liked a project that plans to photograph 1000 different pugs during the next year...that's gotta be cute, right?   My husband was pleased to see a project that honors Ray Harryhausen, the pioneer in early science fiction movie special effects.  Another proposal that caught my eye seeks funding to put up 3,000 square feet of rooftop gardens in Chicago.  Fresh produce, anyone?  I invite you to click on the link and see what inspires you at 

 P.S. Special thanks to my favorite sister for bringing kickstarter to my attention.


      There are some people who are inspirational because they are so creative.  One of these people is my friend, Faith.  You can meet her at  Faith includes tutorials on her blog to help you recreate the same wonderful things she makes; healthy snacks, gluten free foods, fabric labels to personalize your projects and a myriad of items called "simply homemade".  Do yourself a favor and go check her blog out.  She makes you feel like you can do anything, too.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sparks of Inspiration

      A new hobby has ignited my gray matter this winter.  An upbeat website called offers a list of tasks that we can accomplish to earn points.   The tasks range from personal habits such as flossing to potentially world-altering ones with community involvement projects.
     It did not take long for me to fall in love with the website; opening the list of feats feels just as wonderful as opening a box of chocolates.  What will this one be?  Which ones will become my favorites? 
      Some of them become habit-forming.  "Discoveranimals", for instance, caused me to bookmark  Every day after school, my grandson and I check to see the featured species of the day...then I go to dailyfeats to log it in.  (One day the worldwildlife site had a short quiz, "Find your inner animal" was a hit with the whole family...I am a dolphin and my husband is a hippo, in case you were wondering.)
     Dailyfeats is good for my health.  I'll hop out of my chair to do stretches, push-ups and go for walks, just so I can honestly log them in.  I learned about the Muller System of exercise/massage on Dailyfeats and am slowly working with it.  I have searched out musical artists who I was not familiar with just so I could click on the "find new music" feat...and then dance to their sounds because "dance" is another feat.
    Feats include such open-ended tasks as "creative project" and "experiment".  MMMM, what those can lead me to do!  I admit that I can get obsessive about Dailyfeats because they jumpstart activities I might never have gotten around to doing or..gasp, never even dreamed of doing.  Thank you, Dailyfeats for the joy you've added to my life.

The Inspiration of a Million

The Inspiration of a Million...

    This post starts with a thank you to the wonderful website from Australia,  Anyone can sign on to their site and log in the number of steps walked each day.  The site tallies steps for you, day after day.  I signed up, walked a lot, kept adding to my total...and, after about three months, my total reached a million steps and the website provided a lovely certificate which I printed out to commemorate my achievement.  I was amazed that I had walked a million steps; I never expected the number ONE MILLION to apply to me in any way.  And that made me start to think about other millions that might apply that I just never thought about.  A million breaths?  A million cells in my body?  ( says the average person breathes over 17,000 times a I figure we easily number one million breaths each 60 days or so.  And the human body has cells numbering in the trillions!)
      Now I was excited about the thought and I began looking around, realizing that a million was a tiny number to Mother Nature.  There were obviously more than a million beautiful green leaves on the trees on our 2.5 acres; more than a million drops of water rushing by in our creek.   We live in a world where "a million" is an amount readily found if we happen to look for it.   This is, for me, an inspirational train of thought that continues to add to the feeling of abundance in my life.