Sunday, March 6, 2016

Burning Daylight

So, it's just around the corner. Yet again. Daylight Saving Time. Another year with the horrible weeks of adjusting to a new timezone without even moving. Now I can sort of theoretically understand that there are people that like it.

Wavy Gravity

Physics was making big news again just recently. When Albert Einstein created his general theory of relativity it suggested that gravity was actually warping space. And that's the model that people have been using since many of it's predictions have been verified. Like gravity bending light, and slight differences in the flow of time between the Earth's surface and out in space (which has to be accounted for to make your GPS work). 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Time is a strange dimension. Mathematically we can move all around in space, but with time all we can do is follow along as time keeps moving “forward”. We can look back in time through memory, history and scientific methods, but when we go forward we have to make predictions. These can be as good as predicting a solar eclipse years in advance. Or as poor as guessing who's going to be president next year.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Out in the Cold

I don't always know where my projects are inspired. But this time I'm pretty sure that my interest in cold smoking came from how expensive smoked salmon is. Cold smoking is like barbecue in that food is flavored by smoke of long periods of time, but since it's “cold” the food doesn't get cooked.

Saturday, January 9, 2016


Not too long ago we were watching PBS (it happens) and saw a short segment on a group here in California building structures out of EARTH (don't call it “dirt”). They had gracefully curved buildings that would remind a person of a hobbit home. Cozy.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Getting Judgmental

I was recently asked to be a judge for a poetry contest held by the student editors of Taft College's literary magazine, A Sharp Piece of Awesome. This magazine has been put out by the students for the past five years, with their next issue due out next May. However, this was the first year I learned of their poetry reading event.

The event, like many of their book launch events, was held at the Black Gold Cafe in downtown Taft. The owner is a strong supporter of the schools in Taft.

There were probably twenty people there, mostly Taft College students, but a few other people came out to hear and read their poetry. There were three judges. Bill Devine is a professor at Taft College, teaching English classes. Then Clarissa Alderete, who is a student at Taft College and one of the Sharp Piece of Awesome editors. Then there was me. I had been invited since I'm a Kern County published poet.

We (the judges) took a few minutes before the reading started to go over the criteria we wanted to us. Since it was a contest of reading, some of the criteria were performance based (like articulation), and since it was a poetry contest, some of the criteria were literary (like clarity and imagery). Then we scattered to different parts of the room to listen. Then afterwards we got back together and discovered we'd all agreed on the top three. Oh, we did have them in slightly different order, but we all had the same top three. So after a little discussion we decided on a consensus order.

Given that most of the people there were Taft College students, it's not too surprising that two of the prizes went to some of them (first and third prizes). But second went to an older man (probably in his seventies, maybe eighties). His poems, while not in a modern style, were very good, and he was a very good reader. Well, actually he had his mostly memorized. The audience as a whole also got to vote their favorite, and again the majority went for him.

So all in all this was a fun event. I had a chance to meet some new people, talk poetry and have a good time. It was quite an honor for Geoffrey Dyer, the Sharp Piece of Awesome faculty advisor, to think of me as a possible judge for their event. Hopefully I'll have a chance to do something similar again.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Center of the World

Normally in August there is a festival down at Pine Mountain Club (near Frazier Park for those that don't know) called the Center of the World Festival. The name comes from the fact that the Chumash people that lived there say that Mount Pinos is the center on the world. The festival operates on grants and has a theme that changes based on their current grant.