Eye candy…

I subscribe to Chuck Green’s Design Briefing newsletter. The newsletter itself is full of links to interesting design site. In newsletter #186, the first was the link I clicked on took me to the Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

The site is (of course!), in French which makes navigating it a bit more of a mystery, but it was fun to click around.


There are all sorts of images, maps, and much more. I clicked through many of the Fantastic Creatures from maps…


I have no idea where I might use any of these images, but it is fun to browse because you never know exactly where inspiration might come from. That said, when you visit a site like this, it’s always good to find out how you can use the images. The site says that the non-commercial use of the contents is free of charge, subject to compliance with the current legislation and the inclusion of the source’s statement. The commercial use of the contents is subject to payment and covered by a license.

Chuck Green also linked to Robert Newman, who reviews contemporary magazine covers at Folio blog. He has an impressive design bio. The newsletter link took me here, where Mr. Newman was reviewing the cover of Lucky Peach magazine. It is worth reading because what it true for foodie magazine covers it also true for quilts if you want your quilt to stand out from the crowd.


As I was writing this post, I went back to Lucky Peach only to find the newest cover and darned if the cover, all by itself, didn’t make me subscribe! I hope I like it :-). If nothing else, I’ll enjoy the covers!


From the funnies…

I love it when the comics hit close to home. Janet, who commented on my last post, is not the only one with a paper issue. I often just close my eyes and pray I won’t need what goes in the trash. Or the shredder.


And I do love to see sewing machines on the funny pages :-)…


Which reminded me of the most impressive Halloween costume I ever made. It was for Jef who went as a Ninja Turtle in the late 1980’s. He sure was cute!



Tidy is good.

I went to a lovely open house event recently. The house was was perfectly decorated and almost zen-like in its overall lack of clutter. There was art on the walls but very few objects on surfaces. What was on display was more interesting because there was not much competing eye candy.

Then I found this article by Penelope Green from the NY Times about Marie Kondo, a 33-year-old professional ‘tidier’. Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, sounds like a good read.

To quote from the article:

Ms. Kondo’s decluttering theories are unique, and can be reduced to two basic tenets: Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service; and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need.

I was in the mood to de-clutter anyway but all of this sent me over the edge. For the last many days I have given away, boxed up, and thrown out extraneous objects that no longer make me happy. Elanor and Jack claimed some things, which was nice. The house feels happier—for sure, I feel happier :-).

Steve is slightly mystified by all of this tidying activity because he was around for the years when I enjoyed acquiring stuff. Thankfully, he’s happy with less clutter. And, in the spirit of being tidy, we are not leaving stuff out on the kitchen counters. The kitchen is his space so this is a team effort. Dishes are washed (not left in the sink) and put up rather than being left to dry on a towel on the counter. The kitchen wasn’t a big mess before, but it’s so very nice now!


In addition to all of the this, I watched the video that was linked to in the NY Times article.

I have vowed to be a better folder. The sock drawers came first:


The closet shelves were next:


Everyday, I’m refolding a little bit more, and it feels so very good! We can’t control much in our lives, but being tidy gives me a sense of control, and orderliness, that calms my spirit.

Be careful with your brain…

I recently wrote about why I quit watching football. I can no longer take pleasure in watching a sport where 1/3 of the players will end up with brain damage. I have been surprised since then at just how little I miss watching the games, and at how much more time I have on the weekend. Who knew!

Anyway, I found this TED Talk by Nancy Kanwisher. She uses fMRI scans to find and map activity in brain regions, and she shares what she and her colleagues have learned. It is a short talk and very interesting. As I watched it, I could not help thinking about how lucky most of us are not to hit our heads hard enough to damage our very-precious brains.

Our son, Jeff, is a biostatistician (at Columbia!) who has dealings with fMRIs. I’m his mother, so what those ‘dealings’ are is a mystery to me. So I asked him to try to explain to me what an fMRI really is:

Basically, an fMRI works by taking hundreds of full brain images in rapid succession — a couple of seconds apart for several minutes or longer. As the video says, these images should be slightly different from each other depending on what the subject’s brain is doing. Areas where neurons are firing need more oxygen, and this difference in oxygenation shows up in individual images. In the experiment, the subjects are shown pictures of faces or other objects; by the end of observation, there are many images under each condition and the researchers ask if, on average, on particular location in the brain has a different oxygenation level for faces than for other objects.

And then I asked what he, the biostatistician did with the data. He wrote:

The stats comes in when you try to decide which image locations are different under the two experiment conditions, after the fMRI data has been collected. Changes in blood oxygenation are typically small and there’s a lot of noise in the image, so it takes some effort to pick out areas that “light up”.

Hah! I almost understand a little bit of what my younger son does!

Last but not least, here’s a comic poking fun at TED, just for grins,…


I think I could come up with one or more NED talks :-). Really, aren’t the possibilities endless? Maybe we should start a trend, youtubing NED talks :-).