Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A blogger abroad

A combination of business and pleasure has brought us to Spain and Germany for the next few weeks, so I'm returning briefly to my old blog stomping grounds, wadlstrumpf.blogspot.com.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Simple Gifts

I'm learning a great deal about clay whistling technique by watching myself play. I'm pretty sure it's poor form to cross one's ring fingers over one's pinkies, and that double-jointed bit with the bird finger on my right hand needs some straightening out. Fortunately for me, no one has composed any Hanon or Czerny-esque finger exercises for chicken whistles yet (and I'm not going to fill that gap).

On the to-do list: a whistle with an octave range, and a whistle with two resonance cavities to allow playing in harmony (say, a simple tonic/dominant egg coupled with a five-note chicken). A potter-musician can dream, anyway. And I think it's time to finally set up that extruder and try my hand at making some penny whistles...

Freude, schöner Hühnerfunken

Race for the Cure 2011

Here are JM and I in our sweaty post-race glory. On our team of 20, we were the sole competitive 5Kers this morning at the Raleigh Race for the Cure. Other Team Amazing Us members did the recreational 5K or the Sleep-In-for-the-Cure. J didn't beat her personal best, but she did manage to sleep until a respectable 9:30am, while L stayed in bed until an impressive 10:30am.

The advantage of doing the competitive 5K is the same as the disadvantage: it starts at 7am. Starting early means cooler temps, no lines for parking, no lines for the shuttle bus, and being surrounded by a sea of runners rather than walkers; but it also means leaving Durham around 5:45am.

Next year, I plan to organize an environmentally-friendly Durham satellite team: rather than getting up pre-dawn and converting gasoline into exhaust by driving all the way to Raleigh, we'll get up with the sun and go for a 5K run/walk on a local trail. Alas, we won't bond with 25,000 other runners/walkers, but we'll bond with one another. And planning a year in advance to stay local, as opposed to wearily suggesting it the night before, will mean we're being intentional about it rather than bailing at the last minute.

Our team raised $2,700 this year, thanks to numerous generous donors, and 33 chickens found new homes.

Unfortunately, the list of friends for whom I run grows longer every year. This morning's run was in honor of CB, BC, TS, LF, JdM, JK, FO, CL, LC, and JF.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I belatedly learned about diatoms over a year ago, but it wasn't until just the other week that I learned about radiolarians. I was leafing through some junk mail--the Dover catalog of children's books--when I came across Haeckel's Art Forms from the Ocean.* Thank you, junk mail! The Dover blurb states, "The tiny single-celled organisms known as radiolarians (or radiolaria) develop beautiful, intricate mineral skeletons that cover ocean floors throughout the world." Radiolarians? Spherical skeletons with lacy holes and spikes? Whoowee! Diatoms gone wild!

Naturally, I googled "radolaria[ns]" and found a wealth of swell images (most of which are copyrighted, of course, so, ya know, click on the ones below to see the original sources):

I also googled Haeckel and learned that he faked illustrations of embryos in order to support his ideas about evolution, and that those fake illustrations have made their way into assorted contemporary biology textbooks. Perhaps he faked a few radiolarians as well; indeed, it's hard to believe he had real life sources for such fantastic microscopic skeletal remains as these:

Anyway, you know what I gushed about on the last day of Pottery for Geeks.**

While much radiolarian art on the interwebs is created using 3D printing (which, I dunno, kinda seems like cheating), one Bavarian ceramicist, Gerhard Lutz, hand builds exquisitely delicate porcelain radiolarians that put my wheel-thrown ones to shame:

*I'm not quite sure how a CD-ROM of an 1862 atlas of microscopic oceanic lifeforms got mixed in with Dover's At the Beach Fun Kit and Something's Fishy! Undersea Designs to Color, but I'm glad it did.

**I also gushed about the Pythagorean Cup, a.k.a. the Cup of Tantalus, a classical Greek wine goblet that punishes gluttony by siphoning out its entire contents when overfilled. It turned out no one in the class felt a need for an anti-gluttony cup, so we didn't try making any.