Monday, July 16, 2018


Yesterday, my mom and I got together for lunch, sat and waited a little while I got my car cleaned up a bit, and shopped. The first retail excursion was to the crafts store, where she had recently left a couple things to be framed.

One of these is the circa-1960 map of her home county. It includes a legend of several local businesses, and in the top right corner are two images of bank branches; one, the new and super modern DRIVE THROUGH branch. The other, the older building: where mom worked when she was a single lady. She pointed to the second floor corner window.

"That is the window where I looked out and saw your dad when he came for our first date."

They were set up on a blind date, so this was where she saw dad for the very first time.

The other thing she had framed was dad's system. He designed a certain system for CEBAF, now known as Jefferson Laboratory, the national accelerator facility. After sketching it out, he had a student put it in a proper rendering, and this, now, is in a really nice frame.

Dad worked with Jeffy Lab when they first started calling it that, and you can see by the nickname how Virginians are about change. Heh. Plus, it's fun to say - Jeffy Lab.

The framing guy did a splendid job with both pieces. The map was pretty fragile, even had small holes in it, but ironed out and mounted with UV glass, it is a gorgeous faded color, but the blue ink is really pretty. The frame is wood, with a nice interesting grain. It's warm.

The schematic is less amber, though the paper was decades old - and you can discern, if you care to, where it was folded. There is one whiter spot, where it was stored for years next to some smaller piece of paper that left a paler, un-faded square where it had lain. It is in a black frame, white-matted, but with the thinnest under-mat of black, to create a little outline around the document.

For someone into industrial design, this would be a pretty cool design piece. For me, it is an image literally mined out of the mind of my dad; who, not that I've ever mentioned this before on my blog (hah), happened to be a stupefyingly brilliant teacher.

The system's exactingly thin lines and detailed intricacy are beautiful; not entirely unlike a flow chart, balanced, and filled with information I don't understand. It all comes to a result that ... is an ongoing piece of the scientific community of the world.

My dad did that. He is *still* a part of the mechanism of study and discovery. Gone fifteen years and more, he still lives - in this little avatar of his work, which is an artifact we can enjoy - and in his WORK, which is still a part of the engine of science and study.

It's easy to remember, as his kid, that my brother and I, his grandkids - and mom, who lived with him for over forty years, and started this branch of family - are the products of his life. But it's heart-swelling to think: dad contributed to so much more than just "me" in this world (as good fathers do, right?). That his being a teacher frustrated and challenged and maybe inspired hundreds of others. Maybe thousands.

My dad touched so many things, as curious intellects do. He *made* much more than I probably ever will. Which so few of us will ever be able to say.

And it's out that second-floor window ... where that all began, just before the blind date did.

Thursday, July 5, 2018


When an article features Terry Crews and mentions Rosey Grier, I'm going to be all the way in for clicking THAT. When that article fully displays the principle and ever-perfecting manhood, well pre-dating Crews' current testimony before the Senate, and how sumptuously he expresses not only his humanity but his convictions, I all but weep. He's proving what we know - and most need to know. Additionally, he's funny as hell.

A joke I heard on Twitter once: "White people upset about BET asking, 'Why don't we have White Entertainment Television?' ... We do, it's HGTV." Worth the click because sometimes online discourse is fertile.

In other TV musing, something struck me about Pose recently. Having watched other Ryan Murphy works, I knew early on that the discussion I'd seen regarding how unrealistic Pose is was almost funny: Murphy's not interested in realism, he presents setpieces, and he does that nicely if you choose to take it on his/those terms. (Feud felt intentionally setbound; even outdoors scenes are claustrophobic and closed-in. That plays to the emotional worlds of the Crawford and Davis characters in play.) For Pose, the archness is not as visually obvious, so I've seen complaints about, say, just how glamorous the scene is made to look, or the opening sequence for the series itself, where "real" historical costumes are stolen from a museum for a gay ball. Preposterous! And duh. Here is the thing: Pose is 80s TV. Figuratively (it's set in the late 80s) and literally (its emotional beats are ALL Very Special Episode-worthy). The depth of plotting is *veeeerryyy* much like 80s TV - sitcom or drama. The pacing is extremely 80s; when TV took time to lay things out. For many, this seems slow or dry or even insulting (making the implicit explicit). But this is so, so true to its time. It takes the 80s seriously, AND it tells stories no network (remember, we really had three back then) would have told in the time itself. I kind of think that's genius, and it's not Murphy's first time reining pace enough to slow things down like this. Given his current influence, you wonder how this might bear out in others' work. Imagine a vogue for *less* cinematic TV; imagine the VSE's regaining ascendance. I've seen surprising amounts of ink on VSEs over the past couple of years. My guess is nostalgia is bringing it back, in service of subjects even the original concept never served.

Leaping from television to literature, who has read Connie Willis's Doomsday Book? I actually re-read it a year or two ago, and - forget Jurassic Park - this book will scare the willies out of you, in both its plague-ridden timelines. So reading about the extraction of leprosy from centuries-old skeletal remains ISN'T HORRIFYING AT ALL. Just as long as you haven't read the wrong books. Yeep.

Finally ... hmm, and more hmm. Yes, fella babies, it's Adventures in Science Reporting again!

I have written in the past about Penelope's ancestry, and as little obsessed as I am with pedigree, it's not beyond me to admit fascinated with the idea my beloved Pariah descending from millennia of fascinating forerunners. Oddly enough, it seems like cancer is about all we really have left of pre-contact canine breeds. Still - being a critical thinker - it is hard not to wonder about previous DNA studies, pointing to modern Amercan dogs' long history here. Hmmmm. Keep us posted, Dr. Ostrander.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day

I'm an American.

American dreams are built on words we dare not say.

Are you at liberty today? Remember those who are not; maybe help them out.

If you are American, are you one of the (shamefully few) who vote? This right is under attack. We can fight that.

Are you enjoying Teh Intarwebs? Do you believe all media should be controlled by one party? Is a free press worthy of protection? Defend it.

Be well today - and every day. Be safe. And let's hope we get through this holiday without that uniquely American institution, the mass shooting.

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.