Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'Pilgrimages'

Nineteenth century, with four bars of wireless

July 2nd, 2005 · Comments Off on Nineteenth century, with four bars of wireless

LindauView: View over Lake Constance with sailboats and cumulus clouds
The Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau houses its laureates in nineteenth century summer splendor–lawns, wooded allees, lots of roses, afternoons on the terrace looking out over Lake Constance while women in long skirts bring chilled white wine or Eischocolade.

And meanwhile , at the Hotel Bad-Schachen, in our gauze-curtained room, or on the stone terrace, or under the sycamore tree on its green bench , there were between two and four bars of wifi Internet.

If you plan to visit Lake Constance–it’s in the leisurely fruit-growing “Grüss Gott” part of Germany, tucked up against Austria and Switzerland–and if you are not too wedded to air conditioning, I recommend the lovely Hotel Bad-Schachen, formerly the White Swan Hotel.

This blogpost, formerly 2333 in my old blog, needed a rescue because of bad XML. It was originally posted 7/2/05; 2:51:57 AM. Thanks to the Wayback Machine, which helped me re-find it!

Tags: Pilgrimages · Travel

Photographic evidence…

June 28th, 2005 · Comments Off on Photographic evidence…

. . . that high temperatures do not destroy the magical mix of young scientists with older ones. More and larger photos can be found here.

Now I’m off to sleep, because tomorrow means new adventures.

Tags: Pilgrimages

Galactic strawberries and DMZ birding

June 27th, 2005 · Comments Off on Galactic strawberries and DMZ birding

Above, last night’s amazing dessert at the 55th annual Lindau Nobel event. Topped by a hemisphere of sugar strands, this tower of alternating sorbet-and-ice cream looks like a tiny strange astronomy radar structure.

I am now in Lindau, five floors up from the beautiful Bodenzee (aka Lake Constance) in a lovely 19th century hotel-with-beach-and-boats. Frank Wilczek and 46 other Nobel laureates and more than 700 students from around the world are on Lindau Island doing scientist stuff.

Before jet lag sleepiness floors me, I got permission to share some info from my last-night dinner partner Hans Jornvall, who is head of the committee that picks Nobel laureates in medicine as well as a serious nature-lover and birder.

Hans told me something remarkable about Korea’s DMZ–a tiny strip of land with an unbroken row of North Korean soldiers pointing big guns into it from the north of it and South Korean soldiers pointing big guns into it from the south. Nobody lives there, nobody farms there, nobody hunts there–so it has gone back to wilderness, full of rare and endangered species. Nice to know there’s an upside to world non-peace.

Do not, however, go birding in Korea and then just stroll into the DMZ with your little Bushnells and Peterson’s. You will be summarily shot, by one side or the other.

Tags: Pilgrimages

Sex and physics and Dennis Overbye of the New York Times

June 25th, 2005 · Comments Off on Sex and physics and Dennis Overbye of the New York Times

Blogging owes some 84.3%* of its success to our pleasure in learning more about people we already know, even slightly or virtually.

I had the pleasure last week of trailing along when Dennis Overbye gave Frank a tour of the New York Times backstage. (Much more impressive than backstage at CNN, BTW.) So of course I had to read more about Dennis and I came across an excellent
interview with Edge about his book Einstein in Love
whose summation I can’t resist sharing:

I know lots of people like Albert. I might be like him myself. He was a hopeless romantic, he lived on anticipation. He was always yearning for the next thing. He was always envisioning some wonderful life with somebody else, while grimly enduring life with the woman he was with. If I think about it, I would say that that was kind of the key to his psychology, that he had the lure of the perfect situation, the perfect person. Of course if you’re Einstein, you want everything that you want your way and then you want to be left alone. So you want love, and you want affection, you want a good meal, but then you don’t want any interference outside of that, so you don’t want any obligations interfering with your life, with your work. Which is a difficult stance to maintain in an adult relationship; it doesn’t work. Everything has to be a give and take.

Einstein always felt Paradise was just around the corner, but as soon as he got there, it started looking a little shabby and something better appeared. I’ve known a lot of people like Albert in my time, I have felt lots of shocks of recognition. I feel like I got to know Albert as a person in the course of this, and I have more respect for him as a physicist than I did when I started, I have more a sense of what he accomplished and how hard it really was to be Einstein than I did before. It’s a great relief to be able to think of him as a real person. If he was around I’d love to buy him a beer ….. but I don’t know if I’d introduce him to my sister.

Now you know more about Einstein, perhaps, than you wanted to. He could tell us his own side of it, if he just had a blog.

* All such statistics are, and deserve to be, made up.

Tags: Pilgrimages · Science

Pomp and circumstance in Queens

June 24th, 2005 · Comments Off on Pomp and circumstance in Queens

Castlewood: Fifth-grade color guard at graduation ceremony, Queens, NY, Castlewood School. In the background, Louis Armstrong sang “America the Beautiful.” Solemn fifth graders trooped down to the front of the school auditorium, climbed up on stage, and led us in the Pledge.

Which brings me to some very useful advice: when your husband is invited to address his old elementary school graduation–do not wear any eye makeup. More photos here.

Now we are home for exactly one full day before taking off for a Nobel-laden island in Lake Constance, followed by a lepton-photon conference in Uppsala. I still love traveling, but I am getting tired of packing and unpacking….

Tags: Pilgrimages

In the fine motel where we’ll be staying tonight…

June 22nd, 2005 · Comments Off on In the fine motel where we’ll be staying tonight…

moonflip: Night landscape, with and without moon, animated gif…there is no Internet. So one final quick post before I run out the door:

If the clouds part tonight, watch for the solstice full moon and planet display. In fact, this week is your best chance since 1987 to observe the full moon illusion, because the moon in this June is much lower in the sky than usual.

No, the full moon illusion is not what you see in this animated gif, it’s something different. Put down your mouse, go outside, and take a look!

Tags: Pilgrimages · Science

Limitations of Linnaeus (and Homo sapiens) noted by Joho

June 16th, 2005 · Comments Off on Limitations of Linnaeus (and Homo sapiens) noted by Joho

Carolus Linnaeus (1707 – 1778) invented our double-barreled scientific naming (and shocked his contemporaries with his scandalous way of classifying plants: “Who would have thought that bluebells and lillies and onions could be up to such immorality?”).

Linnaeus was Swedish, but for varied odd reasons, detailed by
David Weinberger, his collection of specimens and the 3×5 cards classifying them ended up in London. Go read David’s entire post–it’s remarkable and loaded with intriguing photos–but here is my favorite theory-of-knowledge lightning bolt:

Linnaeus’ classification resulted from the nature of paper. Because you only have one card for each species, your order will give each species one and only one place. You will organize them by putting cards near cards like them, naturally producing an ordered series or a set of clusters.

As you lay out your cards, like next to like, you are drawing a map of knowledge. The largest units are kingdoms, not because Animals, Vegetables and Minerals somehow lord it over the particular creatures they contain but because kingdoms are the most inclusive territories on political maps. Knowledge thus derives its nature from the paper that expresses it: Bounded, unchanging, the same for all, two-dimensional and thus difficult to represent exceptions and complex overlaps, and all laid out in a glance with no dark corners.


Tags: Pilgrimages · Science

Manhattan: A town of “No, you’re kidding me!” moments

June 14th, 2005 · Comments Off on Manhattan: A town of “No, you’re kidding me!” moments

This is a town where kids from NH (like me) get freckles on the roofs of our mouths from staring up at the tall buildings. Then, just turn your head to something else amazing:

  • Wow, it’s the Chrysler Building!
  • Hey, that says “Carnegie Hall”!
  • Isn’t that the place where they shot The Apprentice?

When we arrived Sunday, south Lexington Avenue was a huge Puerto Rican street fair (we’d missed the parade.) Later, hunting for dinner, we found a city block (Lexington, 27th to 28th Streets) full of Indian restaurants, and not just Indian restaurants but restaurants

  • kosher,
  • vegetarian, and
  • South Indian.

In fact, one restaurant posted a warning sign on its door “This South Indian restaurant is kosher but not vegetarian.”

What a great city, and btw, I recommend the Mysore masala dosa at Udipi Palace.

Tags: Pilgrimages

I like good hotels better than grand ones…

June 13th, 2005 · Comments Off on I like good hotels better than grand ones…

In 30-plus years of physics conferences, Frank and I have ended up in some gnarly lodgings–spartan dormitories in Swansea and in Dresden come to mind, as well as a Paris hotel room so tiny that its double bed took up 99 and 44/100% of the floor.

More recently, we’ve found ourselves at the upper end of the scale–suites with gilt edges and amazing views. Grateful as I am to the hosts who treat us so kindly, I’m very happy here in NYC’s Park South Hotel, which costs about $500 less per night than the St. Regis–but unlike the St. Regis has free and reliable Internet.

Oh, how I love a good, not grand, hotel room with its own ironing board and little coffeemaker!*

Grand hotels so very often have neither. Instead they have butlers, valets, and room service. If I were a millionaire, I might really like this, but I am not a millionaire and I don’t.

What I prefer is to get my clothes ironed within 2 minutes after I notice that they are wrinkled–without paying $10 per garment, plus a tip. What I prefer is to make my own small pot of very bad coffee when I wake up, instead of waiting for room service to deliver a large pot of very bad coffee.

And I bet even millionaires would prefer those things too.

* The Park South Hotel doesn’t have a coffeemaker, I’m sorry to say, but it does have free breakfast for hours, down in the lobby.

Tags: Pilgrimages

No trolls in Trollfjord

May 20th, 2005 · Comments Off on No trolls in Trollfjord

Enjoying other people’s pilgrimages–Stu Savory is blogging a slow post-boat ride up through a bunch of fjords in Norway, up over the Arctic Circle to midnight sun. Great photos too…

  1. Hurtigruten – Day 1 : Getting to Bergen
  2. Hurtigruten – Day 2 : Bergen City Foot Tour
  3. Hurtigruten – Day 3 : Bergen-Geiranger-Molde
  4. Hurtigruten Day 4 : Trondheim – Rorvik…

Tags: Pilgrimages