Books and Other Distractions

I do get distracted with google. But what I find out is so interesting! I’m reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, which a friend lent me, and one new book they ordered for the bookstore was House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, which I looked up and, according to Wikipedia: The format and structure of the novel is unconventional, with unusual page layout and style, making it a prime example of ergodic literature.

So I had to look up ergodic literature.  (All of these refs are from Wikipedia.)

In ergodic literature, nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text. If ergodic literature is to make sense as a concept, there must also be nonergodic literature, where the effort to traverse the text is trivial, with no extranoematic responsibilities placed on the reader except (for example) eye movement and the periodic or arbitrary turning of pages.grasshopper

Reminded me of e e cummings’ grasshopper, on which I had done a talk to waive one of my required education classes, back when I was getting my first degree.

Examples from Wikipedia were Guillaume Apollinaire’s poems, one shown here, shaped as a bird over a tree (hope you can read French):Apollinaire      and:

Raymond Queneau’s One hundred million million poems, a set of ten sonnets. They are printed on card with each line on a separated strip, like a heads-bodies-and-legs book, a type of children’s book with which Queneau was familiar. As all ten sonnets have not just the same rhyme scheme but the same rhyme sounds, any lines from a sonnet can be combined with any from the nine others, so that there are 1014 (= 100,000,000,000,000) different poems. It would take some 200,000,000 years to read them all, even reading twenty-four hours a day.

So I had to look up sonnet, as my degree in English was from 45 years ago. Sure enough, 14 lines (hence 1014). Some examples here, with different rhyme schemes:

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116”

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments, love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown although his height be taken.
Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come,
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom:
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

On His Blindness by Milton

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask; but Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

On my patio

whiptail 004whiptail 002whiptail 001An Arizona striped whiptail lizard (which is quite small), a roadrunner (which my cat chattered at), and our friend the bunny, who my cat did not kill, coming to drink.

Owls of the Sonoran Desert

Interesting article on Owls in my Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum News.  It’s not on the Web but this from their website:

A great horned owl can close its feet with 500 psi (pounds per square inch). The average human exerts- squeezing as hard as we can- 80-150 psi. However, the story that owls will eat your dogs/cats is an urban legend; an owl can only lift around its own body weight (2-3 lbs) and owls are found throughout urban areas. While we don’t like to say it ‘never’ happens, it certainly doesn’t happen with frequency. Owls will dive at cats, dogs and even people if they have a nest in the area, sometimes misconstrued as a hunting attempt.1

My brother who volunteers at the Bird Rescue Center in Santa Rosa, Ca (I’ve blogged about him a few times – here are a couple of them, the second with photos of him with some of the birds2,3) disagreed w/ some of the “facts” about great-horned owls:

We have three great-horned owls as resident birds, one of which is 26 years old. We get them all the time in rehab and just recently re-nested two fledglings last week.

We generally say they can exert over 200 lbs per square inch with their feet (not 500 psi) — but they do, indeed, take pets — it’s not an urban legend. Levi Leipheimer (famous bike racer) lost a chihuahua to a great-horned owl, and cats are regularly taken. They can only lift around their own body weight, but they can kill animals 2-3 times their size and just tear it apart on the ground…taking pieces to their young.
My first monitor bird was a great-horned owl (Jazz) and I regularly handle them — they’re relatively easy to handle.

And back in 2012 I had mentioned to him how sore my arms got from holding them out in the qigong standing by the stream meditation and he said try it with a raptor on your left hand!  At that point he was working with a large owl.  He said, The owl is a great-horned owl, and weighs about 3lbs (1460g); the heavier one weighs 1670g. I’m required to do at least three 3.5hr shifts at the Sonoma County Fair, which is our biggest fund raiser… probably with a great-horned but possibly with other birds.


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