February 2008 - Posts

Today when I went to buy clay for pottery class, I stopped in at the used bookstore by the ceramics studio where I buy my clay. I was talking with  the shop girl about Russian novels and mentioned that Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky are my all-time favorite translators, and she told me about hearing an interview with them on NPR in the last few months. She didn't remember what program it was on, but I figured I could Google it since most NPR affiliates keep really good web archives. This is what I found.

From the October 15, 2007 edition of "The Leonard Lopate Show" at WNYC, "Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky are award-winning translators of Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov. Their translations have been praised by critics for capturing the author’s original tone. They’ve now translated Leo Tolstoy’s master epic, War and Peace. This new translation is already being praised for its fidelity to Tolstoy’s style and cadence, and for its accessible prose."


I did attempt to embed the audio file in this post for your convenience, but as it didn't work, you can instead follow the above link to the audio for this story.

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Oh how the days fly by. I always have "great ideas" for blogging but when will I ever have time to write them? Well, they say you'll never find the time; you have to make the time, so here goes...

First Order of Business: "Tech 'Tards"
Officemate informs me that 'tards is pushing the envelope of good taste in blogging. I make some comment about black humor and how you can actually say things like that when people you've loved dearly your whole life are mentally retarded. But she's right, it is kinda in bad taste--how would a visitor to my blog know what constitutes "black humor" in my world if they didn't know me and my family? So, apologies for any squeamish, angry, or hurt feeling that may have bred. Please know it's a word, not a judgment.

Second Order of Business: The Ocean is Changing
Science Friday last week reported on the dead zone off the Oregon Coast and featured the author of a new study recently published in, um, some respectable scientific journal. I'll look for a source and edit it into this post later, promise. Anyway, since this dead zone floats along the portion of the coast where I spent most of my childhood, I like to keep up to date with the research and developments around this horrifying phenomenon. The quick run down of this is that as global weather patterns change, the water temps in the ocean change. As the deep currents that we once counted on to be very very cold become warmer, the effects are myriad, far reaching and, in the case of dead zones, visible to the naked eye.

I learned quite a bit about dead zones in an Oceanography class in college, but instead of the science behind it, here I'll stick to the basics. Dead zones are so called because of the massive die-offs of countless marine species that normally dwell in these areas. The basic problem is that cold water holds more dissolved oxygen than warm water. As the (used-to-be cold) deep currents meet the coastal shelves and upwell, they bring oxygen and nutrients with them, and these nourish and sustain the plants and animals living in the waters. Now that the upwelling water is warmer it no longer brings with it these vital elements (because, remember, warmer fluids hold fewer dissolved elements and less oxygen per the basic laws of physics). This changes not only the temperature and oxygen levels in the water along the shore, but the pH as well.

From these chemical changes, the whole ecosystem gets thrown out of whack. Marine plants that thrive in this different temperature and pH begin growing rapidly. As they grow, die and decay, they suck the oxygen (already less than ususal) out of the water. This makes fish--the ones that can't swim away--die. This makes birds have trouble finding fish to eat. What one sees when they walk the beach is sand littered with hundreds to thousands of dead birds. After storms, the beach will also be covered with the washed up dead fish.

For the last six summers in a row the dead zone has shown up along the Oregon Coast. In 2006 it lasted for four months (the longest stretch yet). When residents say they've never seen anything like it, you know something is going on. In this scenario, however, there are also several decades worth of daily ocean temperature and chemistry records to quantifiably demonstrate that this is an anomaly. In fact, in the last 60 years, since record keeping began, anaerobic zones have never (until now) been found in this region. Now, they are becoming a predictable event.

Along with changing marine life, temperature changes in the major ocean currents bring with them changes in global air currents, but I think that might be a topic for a different day...
 

 

 

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The ways of the Internet are somewhat foreign to me, and most of the time I just accept this. But sometimes I start wondering about something if I see it enough times. Such was the case today with the phrase “mirror sites.” I asked someone in my office (okay, it way my boss) about it and he suggested that I find out what wikipedia had to say about it and then check in with any outstanding queries. So I paid a little visit to wikipedia and, in brief summary form, this is what I learned.

Mirror sites are used (“legitimately,” in the eyes of search engines) to synchronize date between multiple users.

Mirror sites are used (again, “legitimately”) to back up data, although this is a lousy way of backing up yer info.

Mirror sites are (“legitimately!”) used to route some of a heavy traffic load away from a site, splitting it between the mirrors. (This would be done, for instance, in the event that the original site’s server couldn’t handle a huge flood of traffic.)

Mirror sites, totally to the chagrin of search engines, are used for link farming. In this scenario, the sites are full of hyperlinks between each other, trying to trick the search engines into thinking that, since there are lots of in-links, the site must be important. However, the indomitable search engines will catch on to this and make you pay dearly.

Overall, mirror sites are a way to put the same data online in an identical format, but via independent (so to speak) sites.

At least, that’s my current understanding. After my little foray to the land of Wiki I actually had more questions than my original, “Hey, what’s a mirror site and is it a bad thing?” If my intrepid boss thought he got away easy on that one, he’s got another thing coming when he discovers my list of confusion in his inbox tomorrow!

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Last night I had the pleasure of joining the already-in-progress ceramics class at a local city-run rec center. I missed the first two classes and thought I was going to have to wait until the next session to sign up due to a local clay shortage, but one of the employees at the rec center generously offered to let me use her clay until more was available. That, in addition to her incredible personable email correspondence when I first inquired about the class, and I knew I had to start this session instead of next.

It's been about three years since I was on the wheel, but it's almost like riding a bike the way your hands remember what to do. I threw with a slightly soft (but not too soft!) Georgia Red that centers with ease and has a nice stoneware grit. I hear it sucks out all the pigments in the glaze and I'm not thrilled about that, but neither am I complaining. I threw three bowls and three mugs and only now must I ask, why not a set of four, silly?

When I moved across the country I left behind most of my "personal collection" that I made and ate off of in the past, so I'm really looking forward to eating soup and drinking coffee out of these new creations after I do the trim, bisque fire, glazing, and firing. Hopefully I'll tackle a teapot before long--I imagine the only thing that rivals eating out of dishes that you made is brewing tea in a tea pot you made!

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