history, photography, STEM

Beyond Measuring the Earth

Geometry began with practical measurements over moderate distances.  Boundaries of Egyptian farmers’ fields had to be restored after the Nile’s annual floods.  A taut rope between two posts marked where an edge of the base of a pyramid would be laid.  And so on.  This prosaic technology inspired ancient Greeks to create something weird and wonderful.
 
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People like Pythagoras and Euclid reimagined the pyramid builders’ rope as perfectly straight (not sagging a little), so thin that it had no thickness at all, and extending forever beyond the posts.  Crazy.  They called it a “line” and found that they could reason about such things, proving new statements by deductions from what they already knew.

Those ancient geometers discovered much that was true and good and beautiful in the imagined world of points and lines, and a few of them took the first tentative steps toward using their discoveries to help answer questions about the experienced world of posts and ropes and much else.  Eratosthenes kept the promise made by “geo”+”metry” when he measured the circumference of planet Earth, even tho it was impractical to try to wrap a tape measure around it.

Modern STEM is rooted in ancient geometry (among other things), and a long hard slog has progressed from measuring the Earth to understanding it.  Our understanding is not perfect and never will be, but maybe it is good enough to help us save the Earth.  From us.  I hope we can rise to that challenge, and that I have risen to this one:

Geometry ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #269

Pythagoras_BlueMarble_840x842

Image Sources

  • The colorful frame around the image is upsized from my much smaller diagram for Bhaskara’s elegant proof of Pythagoras’ Theorem.  The resulting fuzziness of the points and line segments is a reminder that we cannot experience the ideal perfection of geometric shapes.  But we can refer to the shapes when we tell each other stories about what we experience!  (Tho often hard to read w/o wrangling equations, scientific theories are among the best stories we can tell.)  The colors of the line segments tie the image to the theorem’s bottom line w/o using letters that would clutter the diagram:
      a² +  b²  c²
  • The Blue Marble image overlaid on the diagram was downloaded from NASA Visible Earth: The Blue Marble.   Making NASA’s image cost a lot more than making mine.  That’s OK.  It was money well spent.

language, math, photography

Perpendicular: Upright or Uptight?

Calling 90 degrees a “right” angle is a little misleading.  Yes, spatial coordinates should usually be based on perpendicular lines.  But 90 degrees is often just one among many, and perpendicular may not be right for the job.
 
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Perpendicular ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #269

The ceiling should be perpendicular to the wall
(and the wall to the floor).

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Even the klutz who built my house got that right.

DSCN0909_upright_crop_840x533

 
 

The right angle for slicing a pizza depends on
how many slices are needed.

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© sabelnik | 123RF Stock Photo

 
 

Willing to count a circle as a “line” perpendicular to any chosen straight line thru the center?  (I am.)  If so, then spatial coordinates should almost always (not just usually) be based on perpendicular lines.  Want to navigate on a really big pizza?  Use polar coordinates.

flowers, haiku, photography

Haiga with Several Time Scales

Haiku poems commonly deal with events on short time scales.  In a split second, the frog jumps into the pond.  In minutes, the sunset fades.  In days, the cherry blossoms fall.  How about decades?  How about millennia?  They can show up too, along with the split second that a camera’s shutter is open.
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mums-rock_840x674

Sunlit Moment
|Mums are good silk fakes.
|Rock is real and will outlast
|both mums and viewer.

I dithered over whether to respond to

Scale ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #268

with the material above.  With small differences in format, it was posted 2020-04-17.  Tho usually reluctant to repeat myself, I’ve noticed that bloggers I respect sometimes do repost things they feel are still relevant.  I’ve also noticed that 11 months is quite a while on a cyberspace time scale.

Oh well.  It’s rare that I settle on a combination of angle and settings that I really like before the light fades or shifts.  Seize the moment.

haiku, photography

Rainbow Zen

The rainbow images that illustrate haiku here are in an elite group.  (Wish the images were mine.)  The rainbow does not just coexist with whatever else is in the scene; it works with the other elements and lifts a good image to greatness.  A bonus awaits those willing to read the notes and credits at the end of this post.
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Dramatic-Skies-31

Arizona Sky
|Wings gliding past arc,
|high above Mogollon Rim:
|raven and rainbow.

australian-rainbow_450x600

Out of Reach
|Hard fingers rise up,
|trying to grasp soft colors
|as the rainbow fades.

No Pots of Gold
|Seek ends of rainbows.
|You will not find them? Okay.
|The quest is enough.

§: Notes and Credits

While there are zillions of fine photos of rainbows, the images used here are in an elite group.  (Wish they were mine.)  The rainbow does not just coexist with whatever else is in the scene; it works with the other elements and lifts a good image to greatness.

Subsection headings below are also links to pages with more detail.

§§: Harvey Stearn’s Photo of Raven and Rainbow

Click on the link above if U have any interest at all in how dramatic skies can contribute to landscape photos.  No interest?  Click anyway and U will soon have one.  The photo I used comes near the end in a long series of splendid examples.

I first saw this photo as a standout among standouts in a collection curated by Mitch Teemley, whose blog has many great collections alongside funny and/or insightful original content.  The idea of a haiku with what became the last line of Arizona Sky came to mind quickly, but writing other lines I liked took longer.  Much longer.

§§: Randy Olson’s Photo of Termite Mound and Rainbow

I wrote No Pots of Gold and later found this splendid photo to illustrate it (and inspire some haibun prose).  The photo proved to be a gift that keeps on giving; it inspired Out of Reach.

§§: Naturalism in Haiku

Rainbows are one kind of spectrum.  There are many other series rather like the somewhat quantitative R-O-Y-G-B-I-V of rainbows, and sometimes it helps to think of those spectra as rainbows.  Two examples follow.

This post’s series of haiku exemplifies the spectrum of naturalism in haiku.  Like Arizona Sky, many haiku are specific descriptions of a momentary observation.  Like No Pots of Gold, some are toward the other extreme: general expressions of attitudes toward life, with at most a metaphorical reference to nature.  Out of Reach is in between.

There is also a spectrum of compliance with the 5-7-5 rule, which is revered by some and reviled by others.  Like most of my own haiku, the ones in this post comply.  Tho I do respect the 5-7-5 rule, I also wrote a haiku that goes 3-2-5 and a haiku with just 2 lines.  No apologies.

Don’t submit blindly to restrictions on
subject matter and nuances of form,
for haiku or any other kind of art.
Let the rainbows glow.
haiku, photography, seasons

Hope at Sunrise

Patrick Jennings’ challenge #259 salutes the sun in the great outdoors.  Sunlight is both a source of hope and something to hope for.  The same is true in more intimate settings, and the New Year got off to a good start at sunrise on 2021-01-01.
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Hope ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #259

IMG_4803_840x549

Morning Sun on Winter Wreath
|Bird, bow, and berries
|scatter rays of hope to me.
|Today may be good.

(reblog), photography

Ash Trees and Artichokes

Apart from being plants, they have little in common.  But this particular ash tree and this particular collection of artichokes share a kind of solemn beauty in death.  My images respond to the image and words in Patrick Jennings’ challenge #258, which is reblogged (in effect) at the end of this post.
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ash-closeup_840x630

ash-hole_840x722

artichoke-bouquet_840x1119

© Patrick Jennings | Beauty ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #258

Dead tree & West Mitten Butte_840x560

There is beauty
In all things
Even death

To understand this
Is to master life

To master life
One must master death

haiku, photography

Seeking Solitude

«You may use my image in your post, or any image you have created.»  So say the rules of Patrick Jennings’ series of challenges.  For challenge #257, I did both at once.  (Details are at the end of this post.)  The image illustrates my haiku about solitude, which is sometimes an aspiration rather than a condition.
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Solitude ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #257

solitude-overlay-60_ragged-edge_840x408

Not Alone
|Lonely in the crowd
|and weary of empty talk,
|I seek solitude.

Image Notes and Credits

I was intrigued by the landscape’s azure sky in
solitude-landscape_840x404

© Patrick Jennings

While the sky is fine just as it is, it is also a good place for an overlay with text or another image.

I had already used a downloaded image of a wearisome crowd to illustrate the first 2 lines of my haiku Not Alone:
cartoon people in the crowd

© Igor Zakowski | 123RF Stock Photo
(Image has been cropped.)

I decided to illustrate the whole haiku by overlaying the landscape’s sky with the crowd image, opaque at the top and then gradually fading out of sight toward the bottom.  By the time I noticed that my photo editor does not support opacity gradients in overlays, I had my heart set on the project.  Hmmm.  Overall opacity of 60% in the overlay looks good, apart from the sharp horizontal line at the bottom of the overlay.  Hmmm.  My editor does have enough functionality to make that boundary a little blurry and wobbly, with one eye of Ms Purple Hair left staring at the viewer.

haiku, photography, seasons

Warmth and Light

Warmth and light are both in short supply outside at this time of year, but the plants in my yard know that relief is on the way.  Winter will end and they will rebound.  My haiku about their resilience can be a response to Patrick Jennings’ Pic and a Word Challenge #255.
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Warmth ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #255

green-peek_934x657

daffodil-leaves_934x900

Spring
|After the winter,
|green plants spring back to savor
|warmth and longer days.

flowers, haiku, photography, seasons

Snow Fall

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai has the theme “autumn leaves” for November of 2020 and the subtheme “colors of life” for the CDHK episode posted 2020-11-17.  Where I live, snow rarely falls before the leaves do.  When it does, the resulting colors may foretell the colors of awakening life in the coming spring.
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Carpe Diem #1839 colors of life

SnowBurningBush_840x718

Snow Fall
|Bright white and strong pink:
|early snow on burning bush
|predicts apple blooms.

apple-blooms_840x574

humor, photography, seasons

Four Months in the Hudson Valley

This post’s little ode takes some poetic license.  I really can do some of my raking in September (when some dingy leaves fall) and defer much of the rest (to after October).  But I cannot entirely avoid October raking.  The leaves blown into the garage would be above my ankles, and any dropped bolts or keys might never be seen again.
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The prophet month has come and gone:
|July foretold the fall.

prophet

Then August did its autumn tease:
|sly hints and that was all.

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September barked “Start raking leaves!”
|I did not hesitate.

RakeMe_sat-10_temp-22_840x630

October, just around the bend,
|was when such chores must wait.

Chiaroscuro_0_temp+6_tint-18_840x485

birds, flowers, haiku, humor, photography

Ozzie Had His Head on Straight

David Eppley’s photo of a bald eagle named Ozzie was among the fan favorites in the Weather Channel’s 2016 Photo Contest.  The same excellent photo inspired a haiku that can respond to a CDHK challenge about daffodils.  Really.
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Carpe Diem #1832 Narcissus (Daffodils)

DavidEppley_EagleDrinking_840x568

© David Eppley

Mythornithology
|When we saw himself,
|Narcissus forgot to drink.
|Eagle had more sense.

daffodils-close
Click here to see more images and read interesting facts about flowers in the genus Narcissus (AKA daffodils).

Click here to see more images from the Weather Channel’s 2016 Photo Contest.

haiku, photography

Eight Years and Counting

The year 2020 is not all bad.  Carpe Diem Haiku Kai (which is one of the islands of light in an ocean of darkness) celebrated its eighth anniversary on 2020-10-01.  The fine haiku poet who founded and curates CDHK suggested writing “a nice festive haiku or tanka” for the occasion.
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multi-horiz_800x328_Adj_B-25_C+70_S+50

CDHK Celebrates its 8th anniversary – Carpe Diem 1829
Introduction to a new month.

My response salutes the pluralism and progressivism implicit in CDHK.  We can honor and build upon the past w/o being confined by it.

Old Pond & Beyond
|To sing of all that’s
|true and good and beautiful,
|write haiku poems.

JM_2017-10-27_BKR_800x442

history, photography, politics, serendipity

Machu Pichu Endures

The colors of glistening pineapple and watermelon may distract the eye from something unusual about how these chunks of fruit fell into a bowl.  Let’s remove most of the color from the image and nudge a few other sliders in a photo editor.  Does the accidental arrangement look somewhat familiar?  Ever been to Machu Pichu?
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While I have only been to Machu Pichu vicariously, I have long admired the skills and can-do spirit of Inca stonemasons who made sturdy walls from precisely aligned stones of various shapes.  Precise alignment is a lot harder with stone than with fruit.

The exquisitely crafted walls of Machu Pichu’s now-roofless buildings have endured centuries of frost heaves and neglect.  What high purposes might the buildings have served?  Were any of them schools or hospitals or research institutes?

Panorama of Machu Picchu ruins in Cuzco, Peru

Nope.  The buildings were summer homes for the emperor and courtiers top 0.1% and temples think tanks for the priests pundits who told them that their wealth and privileges were rewards for pleasing the gods creating jobs.  Machu Pichu endures in more ways than one.

Remember in November.

Image Sources for Machu Pichu

mundane miracle, photography, serendipity

Aurora Serendipita

I glanced down one day and saw the Aurora Borealis (aka Northern Lights).  Down?  From aboard the International Space Station, orbiting the Earth?  (I wish.)  No, I just noticed yet another of the mundane miracles that console involuntary homebodies who are alert to them.
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Click on a thumbnail to see the full image in another tab.
Scroll down to see where the images come from.

I glanced up another day and saw the Aurora Borealis.
At my latitude.  Indoors.  By daylight.

Click on a thumbnail to see the full image in another tab.
Scroll down to see where the images come from.

The shallow glass bowl of my birdbath was spending the winter as a decoration in the living room.  While cleaning the room, I happened to set the bowl down under a window where sunlight could reflect from the bowl and then from the ceiling.

The Northern Lights came to mind when I glanced up at the reflections on the ceiling, and I later darkened the gray look of the dimly lit white ceiling to accentuate the effect.

The adjective [serendipitous] was coined long after people stopped speaking Latin routinely.  I guess that either [serendipita] or [serendipitis] would work, if the Vatican ever wants to modify a feminine noun with a Latin version of [serendipitous] in a papal bull.  I went with the one that sounds better and looks less like a spelling error.

humor, language, photography, science

Squirrel at the Center of the Universe

Science says there is no place special, so the center of a coordinate system can be any place convenient for the purposes of the moment.  While the fluidity of centrality would have freaked out Aristotle (and still induces some queasiness), squirrels take it in stride.
 
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Centre ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #247

«Hey, stupid!»
«My empty gut is the center of the universe.»
«Refill the “bird” feeder and I’ll do rest.»

Squirrels also take it in stride when
science says space has no special directions.

Do they chow down or chow up?

(reblog), haiku, photography, politics, tanka

Twilight Tanka

In context, the phrase «world slipping into darkness» in a recent challenge refers to serene twilight in the natural world.  In the political world, the same phrase has an utterly different mood.  What to do?  Write a tanka and dig deeper for ways to fight the political world’s descent into darkness.
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The challenge is reblogged (in effect) below.  I was jolted by the clash between the serenity of the image and the political interpretation of a phrase in the poem.

ebbing-radiance-near-lions-bay-british-columbia_840x520

In the ebbing radiance
Of a world slipping into darkness
The light is most vivid
Capable of magiks
Unknown to daylight

© Patrick Jennings | Radiance ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #243

Radiance and Darkness
|In sure and certain hope
|that light returns tomorrow,
|sky’s radiance fades.
|
|But slipping into darkness
|is not serene for nations.