My Favorite Theoretical Physicist

You have one of your own, don't you?

A favorite Theoretical Physicist?

Not one who exists only theoretically; one knowledgeable about topics in the field of physics which are so far out there as to be difficult or impossible to prove, yet some evidence suggests a basis for the theory, until proven otherwise.

My particular favorite is a great teacher and writer who has the masterful ability to make people like me think we might actually grasp some small part of what he is trying to share. Here's a quick clip of him briefly illuminating a bit about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, for example:

I bring this up because recently I was talking with my friend, the librarian (I like to think all librarians are my friends, don't you?), about books I had purchased at the used book sale. She asked, so I told her, about the largely nonfiction selections I ended up with, including: the one about the guy who became familiar and friendly with bears over six summers spent at his cabin in Minnesota; and the one J.W. Powell wrote about exploring the Colorado River and its canyons; and, also, the one about Theoretical Physics. 

It was this last one that gave my librarian friend pause. She nodded attentively about the bear book and the Grand Canyon book, but the third selection elicited a furrowed brow and "Really?"

Suddenly I felt I had revealed a horrible deformity, or some disgusting contagious condition, so I smiled and nodded and changed the subject to the Summer Reading Program and how wonderful it is that participation in our town is really quite high.  Our conversation continued without further discussion of book selection. 

But Eleanor Roosevelt told me no could make me feel small without my permission, so I am taking back my dignity by revealing here a fact which will forever delight me beyond all reason.

Over 10 years ago when I took the plunge and got my very first email account with Yahoo AOL, I immediately sent a message to Michio Kaku in New York gushing about how much a middle-aged mother of four children in the Central Valley (me) enjoyed his radio program "Explorations" which coincided with her regular Tuesday afternoon hour-long commute to grad school. (I was studying mind-numbing legal theory at the time, so listening to physics was a recreational relief.) 

You have to remember this was the very early days. "Ask Jeeves" was the hot search engine at the time; "googled" was an imaginary verb back then. I was skeptical about email. Seemed like smoke signals or channeling spirits from beyond the veil or some other ethereal communication that couldn't possibly surpass the ease and reliability of writing a letter or making a phone call, so I fully expected my message to Dr. Kaku to evaporate and never be seen again once I hit "Send".


Dr. Kaku responded.

WBAI in New York was in danger of being shut down about then, so he hoped Pacifica Radio fans like myself would rally and be vocal on behalf of saving the outlet.

Dr. Kaku and I did NOT become penpals or email buddies or have any communication beyond that one back-and-forth. I have continued to be a fan of his writings and radio program. And I am proud to state for the record that, although I have enjoyed some equally delightful emails since that one, my first will always be my favorite.

So. If you don't already have your own Favorite Theoretical Physicist, may I recommend Dr. Michio Kaku?


A Fearsome Foursome

There are many men I know and admire as good fathers. Today I spotlight those closest to me. These guys do not read my blog. I'm not writing this for them. I'm writing this to remind me how great it is to have these men in my life.

First and foremost, I'd like you to meet the one who made my own existence possible. The man who first loved my mother when they were high school students, and became her husband over 57 years ago while they were still in their teens. His influence in my life can be seen in our shared love of science and nature and thinking seriously and deeply about difficult subjects. I also get my curly hair, skepticism, and tendency toward introspection from Dad.

Next I would like to introduce my firstborn son, who is recently a first-time father, too. Like my father, he married his highschool sweetheart. I will always remember the August afternoon at a High Sierra campsite when Michael and his sweet bride announced that they were expecting their first child. Here is a picture of that day:

Michael is cheerful and funny. He cooks delicious food and gives great hugs. He enjoys monster trucks and zombie movies. He is tender and sweet with all the women in his life, but none moreso than his beloved daughter:

A few years back I watched from a distance as my firstborn daughter fell in love with a smart, energetic, hard-working young man who was also tender and sweet with the women in his life. In September 2005 Maggie brought him from southern Utah so she could show him the Pacific Ocean and I have been in love with Sean ever since. And, yes, Dear Reader, she married him.

Sean builds awesome railroads. He could survive exclusively on salsa and chips. And he enjoys the BBC auto show "Top Gear". If I'm not mistaken, these are exactly the minimum qualifications any three boys would hope for in a father. Here he is with with Boy One (with vehicle and chips) and Boy Two. Boy Three arrives later this summer:

This final father is the man with whom I share my life. Mr. Last (he was, and will forever be, my last first date) is kind and thoughtful and honest and true. He works hard ten hours a day. When he's not working hard he likes to read history, ride his bicycle, or go backpacking and fishing. He's a fascinating individual. And he has raised three other fascinating individuals who have diverse and unique interests such as horsemanship, weaponry, music, reading, world travel, photography, and videography, just to name a few.

He's a fine father, a great listener, and a playful travel companion. He's always up for adventure, even if the adventure is merely one of my famous drives "in the country" or traveling to the next town to explore the public library. Also, I find it strangely attractive that his playclothes invariably include one of his many free tshirts acquired in exchange for donating blood. Yep. There's one in the photo below:
Yay for fathers everywhere and their influence in our lives! And especially for the influence of these four fine men I know and love.

You guys are my personal Fearsome Foursome.
Someday I'm gonna get you all together for a photo
in your super hero costumes.

Happy Father's Day One and All!


Stuff and Nonsense

...just some stuff in my life recently that I want to remember:

-Blooming basil makes tiny white flowers and an amazing fragrance in the house when you cut few stems after the plants in the garden bolt.

- I've put a couple miles on the new athletic shoes and upgraded from Yoga For Fat Ladies to Yoga for Beginners. I had become such a sendentary slug that bending over to tie my shoes and walking to the end of the street and back was a major physical undertaking for me. Not good. But I believe I have turned the Titanic around. It's taken about three weeks of daily walking (and daily is the key for me) along with easy yoga 3 days a week to get to a place where "I like to move it, move it." (Madagascar, anyone?)

- The other morning at work, a coworker/friend brought me fresh blueberries because she thought I might like them. I do! This morning I ate a giant bowl of Cheerios heaped with a sliced banana, fresh strawberries, and the delicious blueberries of friendship.

- Ewan McGregor is a really great actor. When we learned the second Hurstling was a boy I suggested Owen as a lovely name for the sibling of first-born Ian. I further suggested a third boy could be Ewan so the Hurst Brothers would have the musical monikers of Ian, Owen, and Ewan. But I digress.

This evening Mr. Last and I slogged through a movie starring the handsome and talented Mr. McGregor, who did an admirable job of carrying the film Ghost Writer with precious little help from his supporting actors (Kim Catrall of Sex and the City fame, and Pierce Brosnan, who was perfectly cast as Remington Steele in the 1980's television show of the same name, but he'll never be accused of being a really great actor. Momma Mia, anyone?).

So, the Ewan McGregor movie reminded me of one of the kids' favorite PBS shows from the 1990's. Perhaps you'll recognize this:


Done Anything Blog-Worthy Lately?

I haven't completed a "To Do" List. 

And I haven't even thought of cleaning the attic.


I did eat six Oreos for dinner last night.

And I may have stumbled onto our Little House in the Country.

So later today we tour a handful of properties with the real estate agent. And we are pretty excited about one particular acre.

Hang on to your hats.

I'll keep you posted.


I've Got Two Good Feet

They'll take me anywhere I wanna go.

Wandering via auto, or via the Internet, or via my imagination is all well and good, but it lacks the immediacy of one foot swinging in front of the other over and over and over, propelling me forward.
I like walking.

I'm doing it more.

Because it feels good. And it connects me to the world I inhabit. Walking gives me time to wonder and think and notice the details I might otherwise let fly by.

I don't want the details to fly by. This is my one life.

I'm enjoying the journey.

One step at at time.