Friday, May 28, 2010


As some of you know, I fancy myself an armchair neuroscientist. I love thinking about the brain and learning about new discoveries. My curiosity was initially piqued by Mind Wide Open, and I haven't been satisfied since. There are so many new advances and discoveries in the area of neuroscience! Personally, my excitement stems from the idea that what we know about the brain gives insight into human behavior and ethics. We cannot know how best to live without first knowing how we function as human beings. It's hard to improve yourself when you don't know where you are starting from.

In any case, in celebration of the brain--and of thoughts and dreams in general--please enjoy the below images, via the Allen Brain Institute (link):

Monday, May 24, 2010

Art Heist!!

I love art. And yet, I also love art heists. What is wrong with me?

In any case, here are the paintings that were stolen from Paris' Museum of Modern Art over the weekend. If your were coveting any of these, they are now officially available on the black market.

They are:
Modigliani's "Woman with Fan"
Leger's "Still Life with Candlestick"
Picasso's "Dove with Green Peas"
Matisse's "Pastoral"
Braque's "Olive Tree near l'Estaque"

Which is your favorite? Or, rather, if you were the thief, which one would you keep for yourself? : )

Friday, May 21, 2010

A (Very) Brief History of Badminton

The esteemed and highly-respectable sport of Badminton was invented in the mid-18th Century by English soldiers stationed in the India colonies. The inventors basically just added a net to an older British game called (I’m not making this up), “Battlecore and Shuttlecock”. According to early drawings, that game looks quite a mess, but Badminton was a gentlemen’s game from the start.

The sport was officially launched back in England in 1873 when the Duke of Beaufort opened the Badminton House at Gloucestershire, the first badminton club. Over the next 50 years, rules became more and more uniform and rigid. In 1934, the Badminton World Federation was established among Canada, Denmark, England, France, Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales. This organization now governs international badminton and develops the sport on the global scene.

Some fun facts:
*To determine which side serves first, a shuttlecock is served and wherever the shuttlecock is pointing, that side begins.
*When playing repeated matches between the same players, each individual game is called a “rubber.”
*The most powerful stroke in Badminton is the “smash”, whereby a player hits the shuttlecock in an overhand manner, smashing it to the court just over the net. The world record for the fastest recorded game-time smash belongs to Fu Haifeng of China, whose shuttlecock was clocked at 206 miles per hour.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How It Happened

It was a sunny, summer day in Paradise (nine years ago today!). He was tall (still is) and dressed all in black (I like to think I’ve improved his wardrobe). He was smoking (yick). I had no idea that one week later I would be falling madly in love with him and that before the year was out we would be married.

He was immediately useful. I promptly locked myself out of my dorm room (in the men’s dorm?!) and he helped me find someone to let me back in. And he lent me his copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide, which I’d been meaning to read for ages. He organized games of Trivial Pursuit in the evenings (when in doubt, “Abraham Lincoln” is always a good guess).

One week after our initial meeting, we went on our first date (summer romances have short timelines). We caught the shuttle down the mountain into the big city of Ashford, WA (population: 267). We walked and talked (at the same time!), stopping in at the General Store for a snack. He bought me a popsicle (multi-colored, but NOT red, white, and blue!) which we shared as we walked back to the shuttle to catch a ride back up to Paradise. All I remember about the ride back up the mountain is that I was trying desperately to get up the nerve to hold his hand. I was smitten (still am).

That was how it happened.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Picasso is not my friend

My first 12 hours in Vienna were not very excellent. First we got lost trying to find the hotel in the dark after traveling by train from Hungary, then we slept (I was jet-lagged and kept waking up), then we went out into the beautiful Viennese morning and visited a Picasso exhibit at the Albertina. Not so great. Picasso is not one of those painters who painted just a few very good paintings. He painted a million paintings*, many of them less than awesome. After spending the morning looking at Picasso's strange rendition of sex in painting after painting after painting, I was ready to not eat lunch and go do something less disturbing. Luckily, Vienna had a lot more in store. All told, it is one of my very favorite cities.

This week, Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" sold at auction for a record $106.5 million. This one, I like. Not that it's worth that much, but at least is isn't disturbing to look at just after breakfast. : )

*Possible slight exaggeration