The Temperature at Which the Kindle Burns

So this is a news story I stumbled across forever ago that I meant to kind of rant about and somehow it just kind of got lost in my giant, ever shifting, to-do stack. The main thrust is that despite Ray Bradbury’s dislike of technology and the e-book format, his iconic book “Fahrenheit 451” has been published in the format.

I came across the story on the BBC news site, where they said Bradbury had “previously claimed electronic books ‘smell like burned fuel’,” and that he had told the Los Angeles Times in 2010 that, “I was approached three times during the last year by internet companies wanting to put my books on an electronic reading device. I said to Yahoo: ‘Prick up your ears and go to hell.’”

However, the BBC story states “Mr. Bradbury’s agent said the rights for the author’s books had been close to expiring and the publisher had insisted the new contract include e-book rights.” His agent said he explained to Bradbury that, “a new contract wouldn’t be possible without e-book rights.”

Now let me step in here for a moment. This is Ray Bradbury, right? Ray, I wrote “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, “The Martian Chronicles”, and oh yeah, motherf’ing “Fahrenheit 451” Bradbury. It seems to me if this Ray Bradbury fellow would like to find a publisher for his books with the caveat of no e-books there should be plenty of grateful publishers happy to say, yeah, we totally publish Bradbury books. It’s not like Bradbury was being sleazy and looking to publish e-books on the sly, or with some other company, or on his own. Bradbury no likey e-bookies. Seems to me a writer of his stature should have been able to get the respect he deserved from a publishing company out there where they would have published his work in the formats he wished. Sigh….I wonder at what temperature the Kindle burns.

The BBC article indicates that Bradbury was persuaded and now his overall views on the matter have changed. Now I’d like to think the previous paragraph made it abundantly clear, but if it didn’t, let me speak it plainly for you; Ray Bradbury is a bad ass. I mean he’s the man who wrote “Fahrenheit 451”! The man is a legend, a wordsmithing hero, and nothing that I’m about to say changes that one bit, okay? I’m willing to bet that 90% of you reading this own a beat up paperback copy of “Fahrenheit 451”. How many of you out there own an e-book version of it? I’m guessing almost none. The portable electronic reading device is new, and still a growing and expanding market, and a lot of people are going to start recreating, or building up, their perfect e-book libraries. That’s a lot of people that will potentially be buying an e-book version of “Fahrenheit 451”, and with the US publisher Simon & Schuster selling it at a list price of $9.99 (which FYI is more expensive than the physical paperback book is on Barnes and Noble’s website and Amazon.com) we’re talking about some serious cash. That’s right folks, I’m a total asshole. I’m suggesting that Ray Bradbury is looking to get paid.

What I want to end with is, good for him. There’s nothing wrong with the man getting paid. It’s not like he’s doing paid advertisements for a book burning organization or something, he just put aside his dislike of the e-book and allowed his own work to be published for it. And honestly, the e-book thing is here to stay, so better he sign a contract, do it now, and get paid now, rather than have it all happen via his estate after he’s gone.

Of course, I’ll never buy “Fahrenheit 451” as an e-book….

Bringing Joy to the Tarot

Often times when people, sometimes including myself, talk about different tarot decks we can get tied up discussing detailed symbolism, the history and/or credentials of the designer, or the mechanics of the deck itself. What I’m saying is that although interesting, sometimes we suck the fun right out of a deck.

With the deck I have for you today, I don’t want to talk too much about it. I just want you to try and experience the joy and whimsy of it. In fact, it’s called the “Joie de Vivre Tarot” by Paulina Cassidy and joie de vivre is French for the joy of living!

I don’t think my scans really do them justice, but just look at Cassidy’s “High Priestess” and “The Fool”.

The High Priestess
The Fool

And folks, it’s been a long time since the Minor Arcana has thrilled me. When is the last time a “Seven of Cups” has delighted you this much?

Seven of Cups

The introduction to the book accompanying the deck says, “The Joie de Vivre tarot deck is designed to access the child-like energy in each one of us to help stimulate, enhance, and inspire joy in our own lives.”

Mission accomplished Ms. Cassidy.

Tsai Chih Chung Speaks

A month or so a go I went to a book signing for the lovely ladies who wrote “Wicca: What’s the Real Deal?” because if you recall I quite liked the book. The signing was at a used book store in Rensselaer, NY called Good Buy Books so of course Jim and I had to do a little shopping, right? One of my finds that day was a book called “Zen Speaks: Shouts of Nothingness” by Tsai Chih Chung and translated by Brian Bruya. Little had I realized what level of awesomeness I had stumbled upon, for unbeknownst to me, I had picked up a little bit of Taiwanese art/publication history.

Tsai Chih Chung (C.C. Tsai, Cai Zhizhong) is an artist, an animator, a cartoonist. At the age of 15 he started his career in comics as an assistant at a cartoon company, and his career continued to blossom from there. However, it was when he decided that retelling some of the greatest stories and philosophies from Chinese history in an artistic comic format with more modern updated language that his work reached a global audience. When his first book of this kind, “Zhuangzi Speaks: The Music of Nature”, came out in Taiwan it was an immediate success. Soon four of Tsai’s books of this kind occupied the top four spots on the bestseller list, until other authors insisted that comic books no longer be included on lists with “serious literature”. (Sound familiar Gaiman?)

Needless to say, I love “Zen Speaks”. I’m no stranger to the mini Zen tale, having worn out the spine on my copy of “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones”, but Tsai Chih Chung’s art and perspective breath new life into many of these stories. And his art, his adorable, adorable, adorable monks, well, I love them populating my favorite tales.

Here is one of my favorites, “Carrying A Woman Across A River”.

Apparently at some point they did an animated version of Tsai Chih Chung’s work, because here is “Carrying A Woman Across A River”.

I thought the original art was better. And by better, I mean the original monks were cuter, and thusly, better.

Since I loved “Zen Speaks” so much my husband surprised me and for Hanukkah he got me copies of “Zhuangzi Speaks” The Music of Nature” and “Sunzi Speaks: The Art of War”. I’d love to tell you how they are, but I’ve only flipped through them, but haven’t read them yet. Here are my problems; one, I keep rereading “Zen Speaks”, two, when I finally convince myself to set aside “Zen Speaks” to start another one I freeze with indecision flipping through both books unable to decide which one to read next because they both look so good which leads to me rereading “Zen Speaks” again.

Tsai Chih Chung’s comics of the Chinese classics are not the easiest to come by, and are priced varyingly, but if you stumble across one somewhere, or happen to be poking around online and find one at an inexpensive price, I hope you consider giving it a try.

This is a video for the line of animated videos they’ve made based on the books. It’s in English and does give a little bit of an overview of the work.

You can also learn a little more about the artist at TSAI Gallery.

More Marlborough Musings

Readers may remember that at the end of December 2011 I interviewed Dawn Hunt about the cookbook “Tastes From the Temple: Kitchen Witchery from the Temple of Witchcraft” which she wrote along with the Temple of Witchcraft community. Well this past Sunday, January 15, 2012, Dawn was doing a book signing for “Tastes From the Temple” at Muse Gifts & Books in Marlborough, NH, and you guys know how I love Marlborough, so of course I was there!

When Jim and I first hit town we parked right in front of Zeppelin & Kaleidoscope, a vegetarian cafe. Last time we were in Marlborough I just had one of their muffins, but this time we both came hungry. I had The Original wrap, which is a wheat wrap (my choice) stuffed with chopped vegetables, mayo, and provolone cheese, and Jim had their vegetarian version of The Reuben, which he announced to be “quite serviceable”. While we waited for our orders we checked out their small grocery selection and sipped Stewart’s brand sodas.

After lunch it was time to head over to Muse Gifts & Books for some serious shopping! As always I was blown away by Kevin’s beautiful store and how it manages to be packed full of great stuff and there is still so much breathing room. And today a lot of that extra space was being used for two different events. Juliet Bell was there doing palm readings AND Dawn Hunt was there signing copies of “Tastes From the Temple”!

First on the agenda was picking up my very own signed copy of “Tastes From the Temple”. Actually, I picked up four. Yes, I like the book that much. What can I say? I like food. I like Dawn and her Cucina Aurora stuff. I like the folks at the Temple of Witchcraft. As usual Dawn was full of warmth and enthusiasm, and her husband Justin was there also, who is a member of the band Featherscale that was interviewed here on the site. By the way, the latest Featherscale album “Gypsy Heart” is very good too. However, it’s not as good as “Tastes From the Temple”. Remember, I’m a wife and thus I am required by the universe to always side with all things “wife”.

Dawn Hunt signing copies of Tastes From the Temple.

With my signed copies in hand it was off to do other shopping at Muse, but what to get? There’s always so much great stuff it’s hard to choose! I decided to keep the cookbook theme going and I picked up a copy of “Celtic Folklore Cooking” by Joanne Asala, Jim insisted on feeding his addiction, so we grabbed another bottle of Rosemary Oregano Infused Olive Oil made by Cucina Aurora Kitchen Witchery (See? I said I like her stuff!), and lastly I picked up a candle from Crystal Journey Candles to try. (The copy of “Celtic Folklore Cooking” is already bristling with bookmarks of recipes we want to try, the bottle of Rosemary Olive Oil is half empty, and the candle has a wonderful scent and has been surprisingly long lasting.)

With that you would think the day was complete, but we couldn’t leave Marlborough without stopping into Inkubus, the awesome clothing store just across the street! Last time we were there we bought the supplies that later became Stan the Sugar Skull! And folks, they still have sugar skull making supplies in stock if you’re in the area and interested! They also had a big basket full of decorated sugar skulls that looked fantastic! Now lean in and listen my friends, when visiting Inkubus do not, I repeat, do not neglect their trunk of clearance stuff. I got the most bad ass shirt out of it for only $15.00, and I almost fell over when the woman working there pulled out a matching skirt that was only $5.00. That’s right, a brand new skirt for $5.00. Jim, a man who loves a skinny tie, found a black skinny tie with a skull and spade on it. I’m not entirely sure when he’ll get to wear it, until then we found someone who likes the tie just fine.

Fred the Phrenology Head wearing Jim's tie from Inkubus.
My bad ass shirt from Inkubus.

As I was last time, I’m smitten by Marlborough and the people I find there. The only thing I dislike about Marlborough, NH is that it’s not closer.

Copy and Seed

Just before Christmas the Swedish government agency Kammarkollegiet registered the Church of Kopimism as a religious organization within their country. Kopimism, founded by 19-year-old philosophy student Isak Gerson, claims that “kopyacting” – sharing information through copying – is akin to a religious service.

Gerson, in a statement quoted in a January 5, 2012 BBC article says, “For the Church of Kopimism, information is holy and copying is a sacrament. Information holds a value, in itself and in what it contains and the value multiplies through copying. Therefore copying is central for the organisation and its members.”

The BBC article goes on to state, “The church, which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V (shortcuts for copy and paste) as sacred symbols, does not directly promote illegal file sharing, focusing instead on the open distribution of knowledge to all,” But that, “Despite the new-found interest in the organisation, experts said religious status for file-sharing would have little effect on the global crackdown on piracy.”

I’m always intrigued by the idea of new religions and this one is certainly a good time. I’m not sure how I feel about the BBC applying quotes to the title of spiritual leader when referencing Isak Gerson, I mean the story is how the religion was officially recognized. On the other hand, I love how the BBC keeps thumbing their noses at Myanmar by calling them Burma, so can I get too bent out of shape when they get cheeky with a month old religion?

A trip to the Swedish website reveals a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. And a lot of stuff I can’t read! However a healthy chunk of the content is in English, and there is a link to a just starting out site for the United States. Although keep in mind that Kopimism is only officially recognized as a religion in Sweden.

Of course what you’re really asking yourself is, can Kopimism be a “real” religion? A religious philosophy founded on the idea that information intrinsically has value and that copying the information is an important task, increasing the value of the information and insuring the information’s survival in the vastness of the internet? There are certainly stranger things out there, we’ve got deities made out of pasta for His Noodly Appendaged sake!

Is it “real”? Is it teenage idealism? Is it a hustle? Only time will tell, that’s why it’s so much fun.

The Hatless Zatanna

Not too long ago while at our localish comic book store I saw not one, but two graphic novels for Zatanna on their shelves. Since my usual comic book store closed I’ve lost all connection with the comic book world. So while once I would have known new Zatanna comics were coming out, now I found out by being shocked at seeing two graphic novels on the shelf. Of course I bought them both.

For those of you unfamiliar with Zatanna, Wikipedia offers the nice summary of, “Zatanna Zatara is a fictional character in the DC Comics universe. Created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Murphy Anderson, Zatanna first appeared in Hawkman vol. 1 #4 (October–November 1964). The character, both a stage magician and a real magician like her father Giovanni “John” Zatara, is known for her involvement with the Justice League, her retconned childhood association with Batman, and her crossing of the Vertigo line with characters such as romantic partner John Constantine and protégé Timothy Hunter.”

I’ve always liked Zatanna. I was introduced to her when she popped up in assorted Vertigo comic titles, since Vertigo was my introduction to comic books in general. I’ve often made the argument that if Hollywood is looking for a female superhero to launch a franchise, they should forget such a divisive figure like Wonder Woman, and take a good long look at my girl Zatanna. She’s superhero enough for the Justice League, so that should be superhero enough for Hollywood. But let’s get back on track here…..

Unbeknownst to me at least two Zatanna graphic novels came out, “The Mistress of Magic” and Shades of the Past”. Had I missed more? My husband helpfully hopped onto to Amazon.com to see if there were more. The good news is, I hadn’t missed out on any others. However, while he was searching Amazon Jim had a Zatanna Halloween costume come up. He commented that it wasn’t too bad but then he noticed something, “Hey, it doesn’t come with a top hat!” I told him that had to be an error, you can’t be Zatanna without a black top hat. So he showed me.

The Hatless Official DC Zatanna Costume

What’s worse is that this is actually the official DC Comics Zatanna costume! And no black top hat! Even the official Playboy Magician costume comes with a black top hat!

Playboy gives their Magician a Black Top Hat!

Even this random Magician’s Assistant costume has a tiny black top hat with it! Full disclosure, I really kind of dig this costume.

It's not a full size Black Top Hat, but it's a Hat.

While ranting about Zatanna’s black top hat it struck me, I had really been under whelmed with the covers of both Zatanna graphic novels I had just purchased. Why? Could it be the lack of black top hat?

The Mistress of Magic - No Hat
Shades of the Past - Again, No Hat.

I just can’t help it, call me a snob, or old-fashioned, but it’s not like she has to have it on all the time, but when she’s a cover girl, when you’re recreating her iconic look, Zatanna has a black top hat.

Zatanna from Hawkman #4
Everyday Magic

The Secret Language of Birds Tarot

Sometimes it takes a while for a review to get written for The Magical Buffet. It’s not because I disliked the product, or even because I find it particularly hard to figure out something to say. Just somehow, it happens. One of the big factors lately is just a lot of really top notch stuff keeps coming out and I find myself up to my armpits in awesome books and products (a fantastic problem to have, trust me!). Add my health issues that slow me down and the holiday season, and well, stuff takes time. It’s been forever that I’ve been meaning to share the beautiful “The Secret Language of Birds Tarot” by Adele Nozedar and Linda Sutton from Schiffer Publishing on the site, and the cold winter chills finally got me at the keyboard.

There’s a lot of stuff to talk about here, so let’s dive in and eventually I’ll hopefully remember to tell you how cold weather temperatures got me off my ass and writing this review of a truly unique deck. Let me start with, this is a deck from Schiffer Publishing, so I must again take a moment to gush about the quality. It comes in a sturdy oversized gift box that has the awesome magnetic closure that apparently all Schiffer tarot decks come with. The 78 card tarot deck features cards 5 1/2″ high and 4″ wide, which admittedly are a bit hard to handle, but frame the vivid artwork of Linda Sutton beautifully. The set comes with a slightly over 200 page trade paper back style book written by Adele Nozedar (author of “The Secret Language of Birds” and “The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Signs and Symbols” amongst others) and features an introduction from Philip Carr-Gomm (Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids).

Much like when I reviewed “Cat’s Eye Tarot”, don’t think that some sort of cutesy bird “theme” is covering up for a lack of thought, intent, or depth on the part of the decks creators. You would be making a grave mistake.

“When the early priests and Shaman discovered what they believed to be a link between the random vagaries of the weather and the actions of the Gods, they naturally turned toward the skies for confirmation and justification of their actions.

Birds, with their flight patterns, naturally assumed the nature of messengers from the lofty realms of these multitudinous Gods, since of course birds, symbolically, come from the same place as both Gods and weather; the vast, impenetrable Above.” – Adele Nozedar

Nozedar expands from there showing how birds make compelling subjects for tarot exploration. Perhaps not as adorable as the “Hanged Kitty” from “Cat’s Eye Tarot”, (Curse you “Hanged Kitty”!) but multifaceted, sometimes cute, other times fearsome, mysterious, I think you get the idea here, right?

And just in case that wasn’t enough depth and texture for you, here’s some more for you!

“You will notice that the deck you are holding contains a lot of Italian terminology. This is not only because the artist Linda Sutton lives for much of the time in Italy, but is also in honor of the origin of the Tarot cards as we now know them.”

Nozedar goes on to say, “What we do know is that, as early as 1420, there are references to a certain ‘Game of Gods and Birds’ which was commissioned by Duke Filippo Maria Visconti of Milan.” The deck wasn’t the tarot deck we know today, it is a branch in the weird and winding family tarot tree, and so “The Secret Language of Birds Tarot” opted to pay a little homage with a touch of Italian.

This brings us how the cold weather finally prompted me to write my review. One of my favorite cards from “The Secret Language of Birds Tarot” is “The Fool”. After a chilly day of errand running my mind wandered to the beautiful, breezy, beach scene depicted by “The Fool” in this deck. The scanned image doesn’t do the art justice, but it gives you a bit of an idea of how wonderful it is. And I love Nozedar’s introductory description in the book.

The Fool - Il Matto - The Cuckoo

“At the edge of a beach, pretty much where the sea meets the shore, we see a beguiling looking young woman wearing a strapless gold sundress and a gold bangle. She’s relaxed, looking over her shoulder in a come-hither manner, effectively flirting with the camera. This girl looks as though she’s more aware of her lipstick than her surroundings – but the lipstick is good, and, in some cases, lipstick can be important especially when there might not be much else to rely on.”

She goes on to discuss the significance of The Fool and the cuckoo. Also the crocodile our beguiling woman has no problem toying with. Remember, there is always a lot more going on with any of these cards than you might suspect at first glance.

“The Secret Language of Birds Tarot” is a bewitching deck that has certainly captured me in its spell.

Trusting Intuition

An Excerpt from the 25th Anniversary Edition of Living in the Light by Shakti Gawain

Most of us have been taught from childhood not to trust our feelings, not to express ourselves truthfully and honestly, not to recognize that at the core of our being lies a loving, powerful, and creative nature. We learn easily to try to accommodate those around us, to follow certain rules of behavior, to suppress our spontaneous impulses, and to do what is expected of us. Even if we rebel against this, we are trapped in our rebellion, doing the opposite of what we’ve been told in a knee-jerk reaction against authority. Very seldom do we receive any support for trusting ourselves, listening to our own sense of inner truth, and expressing ourselves in a direct and honest way.

When we consistently suppress and distrust our intuitive knowingness, looking instead for authority, validation, and approval from others, we give our personal power away. This leads to feelings of helplessness, emptiness, a sense of being a victim, and eventually anger and rage — and, if these feelings are also suppressed, to depression and deadness. We may simply succumb to these feelings and lead a life of quiet numbness. We may overcompensate for our feelings of powerlessness by attempting to control and manipulate other people and our environment. Or we may eventually burst forth with uncontrolled rage that is highly exaggerated and distorted by its long suppression. None of these are very positive alternatives.

The true solution is to re-educate ourselves to listen to and trust the inner truths that come to us through our intuitive feelings. Following our inner guidance may feel risky and frightening at first, because we are no longer playing it safe, doing what we “should” do, pleasing others, following rules, or deferring to outside authority. To live this way is to risk losing everything that we have held on to for reasons of external (false) security, but we will gain integrity, wholeness, true power, creativity, and the real security of knowing that we are in alignment with the power of the universe.

In suggesting that our intuition needs to be the guiding force in our lives, I am not attempting to disregard or eliminate the rational mind. The intellect is a very powerful tool, best used to support and give expression to our intuitive wisdom, rather than as we often use it — to suppress our intuition. Most of us have programmed our intellect to doubt our intuition. When an intuitive feeling arises, our rational minds immediately say, “I don’t think that will work,” “nobody else is doing it that way,” or “what a foolish idea,” and the intuition is disregarded.

As we move into the new world, it is time to re-educate our intellect to recognize the intuition as a valid source of information and guidance. We must train our intellect to listen to and express the intuitive voice. The intellect is by nature very disciplined and this discipline can help us to ask for and receive the direction of the intuitive self.

What does it mean to trust your intuition? How do you do it? It means tuning into your “gut feelings” — your deepest inner sense of personal truth — in any given situation, and acting on these feelings, moment by moment. Sometimes these “gut messages” may tell you to do something unexpected or inconsistent with your previous plans; they may require that you trust a hunch that seems illogical; you may feel more emotionally vulnerable than you are used to feeling; you may express thoughts, feelings, or opinions foreign to your usual beliefs; you may follow a dream or fantasy, or take some degree of financial risk to do something that feels important to you.

At first you may fear that trusting your intuition will lead you to do things that seem somewhat hurtful or irresponsible to others. For example, you may hesitate to break a date, even though you need time for yourself, because you fear hurting your date’s feelings. I’ve found that when I really listen to and trust my inner voice, in the long run, everyone around me benefits as much as I do.

People may sometimes be temporarily disappointed, irritated, or a bit shaken up as you change your old patterns of relating to yourself and others. But this is usually because as you change, the people around you are automatically pushed to change as well. If you trust, you will see that the changes are also for their highest good. (If you do break that date, your friend may end up having a wonderful time doing something else.) If they don’t want to change, they may move away from you, at least for a while; therefore, you must be willing to let go of the forms of relationship you have with people. If there is a deep connection between you, chances are good that you will be close again in the future. Meanwhile, everyone needs to grow in his or her own way and time. As you continue to follow your path, you will increasingly attract people who like you as you are and relate to you in a way that feels honest, supportive, and appreciative.

Excerpted from the book Living in the Light – 25th Anniversary Edition ©2011 by Shakti Gawain. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com

Shakti Gawain is a pioneer in the field of personal growth and consciousness. Her bestselling title Living in the Light was just published in an updated and revised 25th Anniversary edition. Along with Marc Allen, Gawain co-founded New World Library in 1977. She lives in Marin County, California. Visit her online at http://www.shaktigawain.com.

Geek Month in Review: December 2011

Deck the geek-halls…

The Oldest Businesses Still in Business
So there are two hotels in Japan, founded twelve years apart. The oldest is Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan, founded in (get this) 705 CE. Seriously. It’s had 52 operators since it was founded.

More interesting to me was the one founded just twelve years later: Hoshi Ryokan. This place has been run by the same family, for 46 generations. Let that sink in a moment. Forty-six generations.

Robot Hummingbirds
They fly (more or less) just like real hummingbirds — no propellers, just wings. They’ve been developed for DARPA for surveillance work.

Ice Hotel — Now with Tron Suite
So if you’re an uber-fan of the movie(s) Tron, here’s a great place to take a vacation: the TRON suite, in an ice-hotel. Featuring lights embedded in the ice.

Survive the Apocolypse Home for Sale
Worried about zombies? Don’t be, with this modest ranch-style home built over a converted missile silo and bunker. Shotguns sold separately.

Sometimes Writing Letters Works
So this guy sent a bunch of published authors and critics a survey, asking them about their use of symbolism in their work, or perceived symbols in the work of others. Dry, right? Well, the guy sent the survey to people like Fritz Leiber, Lloyd Biggle Jr., Judith Merril, A. J. Budrys, Jack Kerouac, Ayn Rand, Ralph Ellison, Ray Bradbury, John Updike, Saul Bellow, and Norman Mailer. Why did he do it? Mostly to settle an argument he was having with his high school English teacher — the guy in question (Bruce McAllister) was 16 at the time. Click on the article for the fascinating replies. More than half the people he mailed wrote back.

Visualization of a Magnetic Storm
Slap on your space boots, we’re going some place super-geeky. Scientists created a visualization of a magnetic storm interacting with the upper atmosphere. As Phil Plait said it, anyone else reminded of Forbidden Planet? Full screen it for best effect.

Methane Fountains
There’s a term I didn’t expect to hear about someplace on Earth. You’d think that’d be about some icey moon orbiting Jupiter or something. But no, apparently there are plumes of methane gas bubbling up from the Arctic ocean. Lovely!

Newton’s Marked-Up Copy
Sometimes a marked-up book can be worth more than a pristine one. Like in the case of Isaac Newton’s own first-printing copy of Principa Mathematica, where he made notes about the corrections he wanted to make for the second printing. See the full digitized copy.

Hidden Pools
Because every house should have one of these. Seriously, watch the video. It’s a Bond villain’s swimming pool.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7mXLqIJXHs

Kinda Big
A consortium of 40 universities and institutes will embark on a project to build the second largest human-built structure in the world (after the Great Wall of China). What’s it do? Detect neutrinos. Yeah, I know, not very exciting. But it does cool science things. The giant detector will be a stand of vertically-tethered towers, with highly sensitive optical receptors at even intervals along it’s length. Then these things will be tied to the sea floor in the Mediterranean.

In case you have trouble visualizing what this thing will look like, here’s the money shot:

Carved Books
You won’t believe how cool these look until you see the pictures. Yes, sculptures made from books.

20 Best Visualizations of 2011
I know, lists are cheap and charts are the worst. Well, consider this the best of the worst. Actually, they’re better than that sounds. These are some cool ways of visualizing information, sometimes very complex information (like an overview of the US military or every country that has every participated in the Space Race and what they did).

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog: http://glenandtyler.blogspot.com

A Magical New Year’s Resolution

by Sandra Kynes

A number of years ago I made the standard New Year’s resolution that began with: “Jeez, I’d better do something to get in shape this year.” Of course, I didn’t actually begin anything for a few months and then I decided that a daily walk would suit me.

At first I ventured out at lunchtime which provided a nice break in the middle of a hectic work day. When summer arrived it became too hot to walk at noon and, for my co-worker’s sake, I didn’t want to smell like a locker room all afternoon. This prompted me to roll out of bed a little earlier in the mornings so I could walk before going to work. It was nice and simple: old clothes, no make-up and I could throw on a hat to hide my hair.

In the beginning it was good “alone” time for me. I would think about anything and everything – big issues and non-issues. Sometimes I’d sort out problems and other times I’d find a few new ones for myself. Because I don’t listen to music while walking, friends have asked, “Isn’t it boring?” Not at all because my thinking time gave way to quiet time, and then I began to observe my surroundings – I mean, really pay attention. That’s when my walks began to deepen my connection with the natural world. What better way to honor Mother Earth than to witness her cycles on a day-to-day basis?

I discovered that spring mornings are abuzz with birds and squirrels scouting for breakfast. And that it’s rather magical when a rabbit sits up to look at me as if to acknowledge a bond between creatures of the dawn. As Earth renews herself, the vitality of life is visible everywhere. One day a tree may be sporting only tiny buds and the next day it seems to have exploded into a verdant green sphere. The month of May brings the lilacs into bloom and my neighborhood becomes awash in a fragrance richer than anything Chanel can put in a bottle

Many summer mornings bring a fresh ocean breeze that ripples through gardens where abundant herbs and vegetables are a reminder of Gaia’s generous bounty. Autumn mornings are frequently softened by thick fog that rolls in from the harbor. The Celts considered a fog, the edge of a forest or a shoreline as betwixt and between places with the potential to reveal unseen realms. On these mornings the world seems cloaked in a sense of mystical wonder that even the crows honor with silence.

At this time of year Canada geese create a spectacle as they form V-shaped ranks in preparation for their journey southward. I am reminded of the ancient bird goddess figurines of southern Europe which were marked with Vs emphasizing the Mother Goddess’s role as life-giver and provider. It’s easy to understand this connection in the ancient mind – to them the V formation of geese and ducks indicated the direction of a water source and plentiful food. I sometimes pause to watch while I ponder my connection to very distant ancestors.

In winter when the trees are bare and the snow piled high the landscape is transformed into a place of stark beauty. In this hushed wonderland I can feel a fragile and ethereal magic surround me like frosty breath. Although footprints reveal signs of busy animal and bird life, the world seems suspended in time as seeds rest underground awaiting their turn to bring forth a new cycle

Sometimes the moon accompanies me on my morning rambles. Luna’s phases are more obvious than Gaia’s and serve to remind me of the phases of my own life. I have been maiden and I have been mother. Now at the threshold of a new phase, I hope to become a wise crone.

What started as a half-hearted resolution to get in shape has blossomed into a deeply meaningful practice for body, mind and spirit. My soul is more acutely in tune with the rhythm of natural cycles and I have a peaceful sense of my place in the greater spiral dance of life. On the rare days that a walk doesn’t fit my schedule I don’t feel guilty about the lack of a workout, but I do wonder what magic I may have missed that morning.

About Sandra Kynes:
Sandra Kynes describes herself as an explorer of Celtic history, myth and magic. Her curiosity has taken her to live in New York City, Europe, England and New England. Spiritually her inquisitiveness has led her to investigate the roots of her beliefs and to study ancient texts such as the “Mabinogion”. One thing she discovered about herself is that she tends to see the world a little differently than most people. She likes finding connections between things and creating new ways and methods for exploring the world, which has been the inspiration for many of her books. A life-long interest in archaeology was deepened during the time she lived in England. Tracking down remnants of stone circles and other ancient sites is a passion she pursues on return visits to the British Isles. Her 7th book with Llewellyn will be published in 2012. To learn more visit her website Celtic Soul and/or follow her on Facebook.