Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Be a statistic!

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Crabby Patties

I picked up Crash Kid from camp this afternoon, and mentioned in passing that I had nearly finished my poster for the meeting next week. He responded brightly, "Does that mean you'll be less crabby?"

Why am I doing this again?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Jimmy Neutron lives here

I programmed a robot to drive forward for 6 seconds! Way cool...though in the interest of full disclosure I will admit the task was made easier by the fact that my 9yr old actually built it for me, I just did the coding.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Brain Implosion

Role layered upon role today, and at one point, while trying to draft a coherent e-mail, answer the phone and keep track of the kids, Crash Kid appeared and wanted me to surrender the laptop to him, so that he could watch a film. I told him that my brain was going to implode. He patted my hand, picked up a marker sitting on the table and proceeded to put it to my forehead and making sucking noises. When I asked what he was doing, he said "I'm sucking out the dead brain cells so your head won't implode!" It had the desired effect and I cracked up -- but it made me wonder, is all this multi-tasking really making richer neural connections, or just killing all my brain cells?

Meanwhile, Geeky Mom is loosing her mind over the laundry and other "Domestic Duties". Maybe I can lend her Crash Kid's brain sucking device?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Book Meme (from Snail's Tales)

book meme (via Snail's Tales)

Aydin tagged me last week, but I haven't had a chance to respond until now.

Number of books I own: The collection is hovering around 5000 volumes and I've committed to a "one in-(at least) one out" philosophy, so that is its size for the foreseeable future. There are no more walls to put bookshelves against - so unless we convert the kids' room to compact shelving (and don't think I haven't dreamed about it!)...this is it.

Last book I bought: Spirit of Fire by Ursula King. A biography of Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit paleontologist and theologian.

Last book I read for the first time: I wished I'd made you angry earlier. This series of essays by Max Perutz, a Nobel prize winning x-ray crystallographer is wonderful to dip into. I didn't read them in order, but opened it up at random to find yet another gem. There is an essay about Haber, Germany and the war effort, and another one about the discovery of the α-helix.

Four books that have influenced me:
Lady with a Spear by Eugenie Clark. Women in science, working your way through school, and adventures in the Pacific, this book has it all. Dr. Clark's sheer joy in the science comes through, and even though I didn't end up as an oceanographer, I think I take as much pleasure in my work as she does in hers.
The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. The courage to change your life, or let it be changed in dramatic and sometimes, difficult ways. The book that inspired me to begin praying the Liturgy of the Hours on a regular basis.
The Liturgy of Hours
Marie Curie by Eve Curie. When I was younger, it was such a romantic tale -- fainting in a garret, so entranced by the science that she didn't eat (or couldn't afford to!) ; meeting her husband, another scientist. When I was older, coping with being a young widow...

Five bloggers to tag:
Respectful Insolence
The Examining Room of Dr. Charles
Geeky Mom
See Jane Compute

The tag was to Culture of Chemistry (the blog for the other part of my life...)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Emperor's New Clothes

I saw a scarf in the knitting store, a wisp of thing in sea green. I ended up getting silk and mohair to knit one of my own. It's like knitting the emperor's new clothes. Even with several inches on the needles, it weighs nothing, and the yarn is nigh on invisible. The pattern was called the "Airy Scarf" and it is certainly apt.

Elemental MoThEr

Do you know how to tell if someone is a chemist? Ask them to pronounce: unionize. If they say "un-ionize" rather than "union-ize" -- they're a chemist!

How do I see mother? Sometimes it's Mo, Th and Er....

The pressed flower card taped to the wall next to my desk at home is carefully inscribed to "MoThEr" in a scrawl poised somewhere between kindergarten and first grade. I smile as my minds eye produces an image of the often sticky ball of ebullience that is my youngest son. The next time I spy the pink construction paper talisman, Christopher has vanished and in his place is a litany of chemical elements: "Molybdenum, Thorium, Erbium." I have the same sensation as when I look at the women in the classic optical illusion of the young woman and the old. Who do you see in the picture? At any given moment you see only one woman or the other, yet both are always there. The images cannot be separated —no line exists that divides the image of the beautiful woman from the crone. The whole of each is present within the other. You have only to switch your focal point, and the image changes. There is no blurring of the two images, you see one — or the other. This is my life. I am a mother and a professor, my life flicks back and forth between the two personae. Change the focus, and mother becomes Mo, Th, Er.

From an essay I wrote entitled "Elemental MoThEr" collected in Parenting and Professing: Balancing Family Work with an Academic Career (edited by Rachel Hile Bassett, Vanderbilt University Press, 2005) and published this month.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Obedience, obligation and oblation

There is a sense in some circles of the Roman Catholic Church that abuses, particularly liturgical abuses, must be curbed. The roots of "orthodox", after all, are in "correct praising", so it's not a far reach to assume that orthopraxis will encourage orthodoxy. The The Lay Confraternity of Ss. Peter & Paul was founded on essentially this principal, "inviting the Christian faithful throughout the world to give glory to that public prayer and liturgy which is the Divine Office" in order to "restore to the faithful a means by which the praises of God may continue undefiled".

The Hours are not merely obligation, a binding contract with ourselves or our God. Saying the Liturgy of Hours, in English, or in Latin, using the current Rite or not, does not automatically produce a layperson who does not question authority, nor one who desires to worship only within the Tridentine Rite. While the Hours are indeed ties that bind, gathering a Church scattered in time, place and perspective into one single prayer, the Hours can be an oblation as well, an offering, a free gift, of our time and attention to the Creator to whom we are bound by covenant and not contract. The outward forms are not without significance, but unless they connect to our inmost beings, they are not effective.