Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rocket Launch

Just like at Cape Canaveral: A lot of setting up, a lot of waiting, and then a big "Whooosh!"

Best Beach Trip

The tide was so low we could walk right out to the little island that Haystack Rock rises out of. We could see birds all over the rock, even some baby gulls clamoring for their parents to feed them. Couldn't get photos of everything, but the point was to enjoy the day, not take photos...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Instrumented Bodies

Speaking of music, check out this way of dancing and making music with "digital prosthetic instruments":

There's a one-minute version of this, too. I can't figure out how to post it here, but here's the link if you'd like to go straight to that instead of watching the whole explanation:

You can also read the Huffington Post's coverage of these "3D-printed wearable musical instruments."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hot Summer Day in Vancouver

Patrick Lamb, Vancouver, WA, 25 July 2013
July 25, temperature in the 90s. Lots of people went to the wonderful concert in the park, featuring Patrick Lamb. I'll write more about him, and the concert, later.

Some people went down to the river to fish (against the rules) and others to dive from the pier (also against the rules). The two fisher-women didn't speak much English, and after one of them showed me the pathetic little fish she'd caught (4 inches long), they packed up their stuff, including the little fish, and left in a hurry. Maybe I looked like the fish-patrol or something.

The divers, on the other hand, were happy to have an audience. Here's Andre, the first time I saw him.  (That's the I-5 bridge behind him.)

It was the first time he'd dived from so far up, and  he landed badly, leaving his entire left forearm one gigantic bruise, and his back looking like someone had slapped him about 50 times.

(No, I didn't take photos of that.)

In spite of his bruises and pain (and goose bumps and shivering), he dived two more times, from his usual bridge level, so I could take more photos. The second time, I took a movie instead of stills.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Sleepy Time

We don't even call it dog-sitting when Mugwai and Lola visit us. They're such sweet little friends, and their joy and love make our home even happier. 

And sometimes they calm down enough to take a little nap with us. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Churchill: Keep Going

"If you're going through hell, keep going."

And here are excerpts from Winston Churchill's "Never give in" speech:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Humans to Mars as a Bridge to the Stars

These images are from the Mars Society's Red Planet Pen Blog, showing the steps we'll have to take if we want to explore the universe. We've made it to the Moon. The next step is Mars.

The Mars Society is the world's largest and most influential space advocacy group dedicated to the human exploration and settlement of the planet Mars.  Established in 1998 by Dr. Robert Zubrin and others, the Mars Society is a registered non-profit organization that seeks to educate the public, the media and government about the importance of exploring the Red Planet, with the eventual goal of turning Mars into a second home for humanity.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Thanks to Mother Nature

I've just been looking at Facebook, which I try to do at least once every few months, and I found this great photo on Laura's FB page:

(So, thanks to Laura, too.)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Spies or Cricketers?

(From Lisa:)  
I was just reading the coverage of yesterday's Ashes -- a big 
cricket match between Australia and the UK -- and came across 
several phrases that are so mysterious they could be spy code:
"Starc was dropped at second slip but caught behind for a duck 
soon afterwards."
"Agar, on six, survived a fierce stumping appeal because the 
replay did not conclusively show that he had lifted his foot 
at the moment the bails were removed."
"Anderson was performing magic tricks with a ball barely 30 
overs old and a familiar sense of panic set in among 
Australia's batsmen."
When Dave gets a chance, will he please send a translation?

Madame L's New Guest Columnist, Linda

Please check out Linda's writing on Madame L's blog. She has just posted her first essay, on aging and the generation gap. She ends with this invitation:

"If you think that there are 'generation gaps,' what do you think creates them?  Differences in interest?  Physical and intellectual and emotional changes due to aging?  Any suggestions for feedback?  --Linda"

She loves thoughtful feedback and conversation, so please feel free to write your comments and questions. 

I've known Linda ever since she helped my daughters acclimate to the weather and culture of the great city of Montreal, years ago. Linda will be contributing occasional essays about whatever is on her mind.

And, if her thoughts inspire you to write an essay or share your opinions, about this issue or any other, please share that. You can write to me, louwynn [at] or to Madame L herself, at ellemadame [at]

Acting Like a Scientist (Also, Bigfoot)

Some people asked me earlier this week about Bigfoot. I told them what I know about Bigfoot (nothing, really, having never seen nor heard the sounds of nor been taken up in a spaceship nor had my perceptions altered by any such creature). Then they told me things I hadn't heard before (again, essentially nothing, because they knew no more "facts" about Bigfoot than I did, though they'd heard some hilarious speculation about the nature of the beast which I hadn't heard before). 

But, they asked me, did I "believe" in Bigfoot? Or did my husband "believe" in Bigfoot? I never know how to answer this question, because I don't think it matters whether I "believe" in Bigfoot. So I said something to that effect. (That whole issue of "belief" troubles the linguist in me, anyway. So many ways to think of "belief" and to use the idea of "believing.")

Then, when my son sent a link about new research suggesting that humans are "hybrids," I found this wonderful quote from one of my all-time heroes, Richard Feynman:

"The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of very great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize the ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty — some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."

— Richard Feynman

I'll write more about this later, about the idea that real scientists don't claim to "know" for certain, or to "believe" for certain, anything more than the data show.  Also, Madame L will be writing about it. In addition, Jeff has been writing about this all along.

Also, if I can figure out how to do it, I'll write a post about where we might find Bigfoot, using some data I used and maps I created for a GIS (geographical information systems) class I took a few years ago at WSUV. I think it will be almost as hilarious as some of the other speculative theories about the creature. At least it was hilarious to a class full of students who'd been lulled to sleep by maps showing incidents of hospitalizations in Clackamas County, results of drug experiments in several European countries, and so on.

Meanwhile, again, what Feynman said: "Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty — some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."

And this is what BUGS me about so-called science reporters: While the researcher wrote in his report that he "thinks" humans may be hybrids, and outlined the physiological evidence and mentioned the fact that genetic evidence won't work to trace hybridization, somebody immediately tweeted, "Humans are actually a hybrid cross between chimpanzees on, be astounded..."

Which is not what the researcher said.

So, again, what Feynman said:  "Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty — some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Acting Like a Champion

From a CNN online article, "10 ways to act like a champion":

(Follow the link, above, for details to go with each of the ten points. This makes for great reading. It's worth reading every bit of it. I've re-read it a few times now, and I'm working on incorporating these behaviors into my own training, performing, and every-day living.)

"True champions demonstrate the behaviors and habits of a champion daily. ***It's the manner in which they try to achieve their potential that defines them as champions, rather than their race outcomes.*** (see below)

Here are 10 winning behaviors of champions:

1. Champions remember that success is a decision, not a gift. 

2. Champions document and communicate their goals.
3. Champions make choices.

4. Champions have a plan.

5. Champions tackle their weaknesses and strengths.

6. Champions lean on others.

7. Champions accept change.

8. Champions prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

9. Champions keep things in perspective.

10. Champions stay positive. 

***Soon I'll (finally) write about my Huntsman 140 bike ride with my two awesome sisters and also about my equally awesome other sister and the many other relatives who came to cheer us on. Reassurances from Jeff, Derek, Don, and others have helped me process the whole experience. Reading this article also helped.