No Nookie for you this holiday season

If you haven’t already ordered the Nook, then you can take it off your shopping list until next year. The new e-reader from Barnes & Noble (BKS) has already sold out,and more won’t be available until November of 2010.

In a statement, the company said, “While we increased production based on the high consumer interest, we’ve sold out of our initial Nook allotment available for delivery before the holidays.” If you still want to give the device as a holiday gift, Barnes & Noble will give you a gift certificate to tide the recipient over until the device itself comes around.

What a missed opportunity for Barnes & Noble. Misreading the demand for the Nook will no doubt result in consumers turning to the Kindle to satisfy their hand-held-reading-device needs.

A Kindle in the hand is much more satisfying than what amounts to a promissory note to redeem a Nook in the future.


We are all connected

John Boswell, of The Symphony of Science, makes videos designed to ‘deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form.’

I came across this awesome auto-tuned video clip from John Boswell, We Are All Connected, featuring Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye, over at Neatorama. I think it is a perfect ‘Sunday thing.’

The passion and exuberance these men of science bring to discussing the universe makes me fall a little bit in love with them.

Link to YouTube video clip

Links of interest:
The Carl Sagan Portal
Feynman Online
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Bill Nye The Science Guy

Howling at the moon commences (and other notes)

Friday notes of interest

Oprah Winfrey says, “This show has been my life. And I love it enough to know when it’s time to say goodbye. Twenty-five years feels right in my bones and feels right in my spirit.” Source

The question is raised, “Did U.S. make mistake in skipping vaccine additive?” Source

Testicles are not like peacock feathers. Source

Helicopter-parents‘ are offered classes in how to ‘de-overparent’. Source

Howling at the moon (New Moon midnight movie showings) commences. Source

And finally, a poem with a wolf in it because the New Moon movie release has me thinking about wolves of all sorts:

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, By Richard Herman Eschke

Red Riding Hood
Annette Marie Hyder
From The Real Reason the Queen Hated Snow (and Other Stories)

Well honestly
of course I knew better than to talk
to the big bad wolf.
My mother warned me
all about his glamorous teeth
how fast he could run
and his stalking techniques.

But picture him
as a self-deprecating musician
flashing me a sob story
instead of his teeth
and being clever enough and then some
to lure me off the path
with his down-on-his-luck blues
knowing what I had in my basket
was his for the taking

but also knowing
it wouldn’t taste half so sweet
if he couldn’t deceive
it freely from me cozened out of my habit
of wariness fit for me so precisely
by my own mother’s hands
and colored red for stop
red for ware
red for urgence and be aware.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing
is an ill-suited dog
for a red hooded girl
but his shabby jeans and rumpled shirt
made me want to
clothe him in something better.
So I took off my habit
and let him in.

Money grows on trees in England

Coin Embedded tree from Ingleton Waterfalls Walk, United Kingdom
Image credit: Wikipedia

You’ve heard the old adage, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Well that expression must have been ‘coined’ without reference to the money trees which are to be found throughout England.

These trees look like they are producing coins right along with their branches and bark. Can you imagine coming across one when you are out for a walk? After the first flush of joyous discovery (“Mine, all mine!”) you’d probably guess that there was some sort of propitiatory element to be discerned in coin laden branches. What, other than superstition, could possess people to embed their hard-earned money into the bark of trees?

Gary R. Varner, in The Folklore of Trees, says that the practice of placing coins and even needles and pins in the bark of certain trees was a common folk practice in England:

In England, it was a common folk practice to place coins, needles and pins in the bark of certain trees as offerings to the local spirit or Fairy. This occurred most often when a holy well was nearby. Reportedly, in 1877Queen Victoria placed silver coins in the bark of a tree growing beside a holy well dedicated to St. Mourie on Loch Maree. The leaving of offerings on sacred trees in exchange for healing was a practice spoken of in the Odyssey as well as by Ovid in Metamorphoses.

Troll skin

Coin bark from Ingleton Falls near Ingleton in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Image Credit: Wikipedia

The weathered coins seem to merge with the bark and the appearance of the bark, so encrusted with coins, is reptilian, draconic — even troll-like. It calls to mind stories of trolls turning into stone at the rising of the sun. In the case of these trees, the reverse would happen at sunset — the troll would waken and stretch its knotty limbs, joints popping along its bumpy length.

Arboreal equivalent of wishing wells

“Money tree” near Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire
Image credit: Wikipedia

While a desire for wealth is one reason that money is pushed in to the bark, the coins can symbolize many things desired and wished for, such as: love, children (the number of coins pushed in being hoped to represent the number of children to result) abundant crops, and the safety of loved ones. Anything you could wish for in throwing a coin into a wishing well finds its equivalent represented here. A coin to push your wish along and a penny for your thoughts.

Gold Digger
Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in Prairie Poetry

You lay down on top of me
blocking the sun.
You sowed me and reaped me.
You dug in and leached
all value from my soil.
Your green crop busheled
and pecked.
You grew a whole forest
of C note trees
and their coinberries clinked
like deposit box keys.
Now you walk my perimeters
eyeball the horizon
in new fancy top hat and tails.
You say it’s time to move on
to untrampled pastures.
But you’ll always remember me,
having part of me with you,
the dirt beneath your nails.

Links of interest:

The Folklore of Trees by Gary R. Varner
Uncyclopedia’s money tree entry
Attic24’s lovely blog on money trees
The book I’m reading right now that intensified my appreciation of the folkloric element to money trees:

The Tumblr proposal heard ’round the Internet

Via Gawker, this:

The Tumblr Proposal That Every Internet Geek You Know is Talking About

Last night Justin Johnson gave all the hopeless romantics on tumblr something to “aww” over: He took over every tumblr user’s dashboard to propose to girlfriend Marissa Nystrom using a video he made about the six years they’d been together.

Marissa, will you marry me? from justin on Vimeo.


It looks like she said yes — Congrats to Marissa and Justin ❤

LED fashion from the tips of your lashes to the toes of your feet

The season to shine

With the holidays right around the corner, parties to go to and dressing up to be done, “What to wear?” is in the air. (Disclaimer: The fashion items featured below will either find you hailed as an iconoclastic trend setter or howled at in derision.)

You can literally light up the room in this LED Galaxy Dress by CuteCircuit:

Photo courtesy of J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry

Not only will CuteCircuit’s mesmerizing Galaxy Dress let you light up the room, but you will be doing so with sustainable energy: 24,000 full-color LEDs. Source

As you dance through the night

You can leave a trail of light with your LED Alina shoes with clear Cinderella heels that shimmer and glow in bewitching colors:

Trendhunter reports:

They come in different heel shapes, from wedges to stilettos, and each pair is capable of glowing in red, green or blue as each shoe has three LEDs.  Best of all, they start as low as $30!

Throughout the evening

As you laugh, flirt, and bat your lashes you can enchant with your own version of Artist Soomi Park’s LED Eyelash project:

YouTube video

the light of the party
Annette Marie Hyder

tinsel-like traceries of LED
chandelier your dress
as you dance on balls of light
and mimic sunrise-sunset with every bat
of your prism trimmed lashes

you look like an angel
the light-up kind
that sits atop the Christmas tree

you are the ornament
to the evergreen of festivity

Ten-year-old refuses to salute the flag, tells teacher, “With all due respect ma’am, go jump off a bridge.”

There’s a must-read story over at parentdish about ten-year-old, Will Phillips, who refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance because he believes that one phrase in the pledge, ‘liberty and justice for all,’ does not truly apply to all. He believes that gays are excluded from that liberty and justice. His refusal did not go over well with his fifth-grade substitute teacher.

Liberty and justice for all

parentdish reports:

He started refusing to say the pledge Mon., Oct. 5. By Thursday, the substitute was steamed. She told Will she knew his mother and grandmother and they would want him to recite the pledge.

Will told the Times the substitute got more and more upset. She raised her voice. By this point, Will told the newspaper, he started losing his cool too, adding: “After a few minutes, I said, ‘With all due respect ma’am, go jump off a bridge.'”

That got him sent to the principal’s office. The principal made him look up information about the flag and what it represents. Meanwhile, there was the inevitable call to his mother.

At first, mom Laura Phillips told the Times,the principal talked about Will telling a substitute to jump off abridge. When pressed, the principal admitted the whole incident was sparked by the boy exercising his constitutional right not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Read the entire article here.

Students pledging to the flag with the Belamy salute.
The Belamy salute was in use in the USA until 1942.

Conscientious stand: metaphoric flag of freedom

Will Phillips’ experience in refusing to say the pledge reminded me of my mother’s experience in refusing to say the pledge or salute the flag as a child in the 40’s. She was being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse on religious principles to salute the flag and/or to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Even after the Supreme Court ruling, in 1943, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that “compulsory unification of opinion” violated the First Amendment (this ruling upheld Jehovah’s Witnesses right to not salute the flag or say the Pledge of Allegiance) there was a lot of hostility and outright persecution towards those who tried to exercise their constitutional right not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or salute the flag.

In 1948, when my mother was ten years old, her thirteen-year-old brother, Martin, came home with a bloody nose from being slapped hard in the face by his teacher for not saluting the flag. Martin’s teacher was not going to tolerate any of his uppity ideas about freedom of religion — not when that freedom disrespected her flag and her country! She congratulated herself that she landed a resounding slap in defense of the republic.

My mother’s fifth grade teacher was not physically abusive but she let it be known, through classroom criticism, just how she felt about my mother not saluting the flag.

At this time school children received a break each day during which they were given free milk. They took their refreshment at their desks. So one afternoon, when all the children in my mother’s class were enjoying their milk at their desks, the teacher stood up and told the class, “You know, children, there are some among you who don’t mind drinking the free milk from the cows of our country of the United States of America. But they certainly mind saluting the flag of the United States of America!”

Since my mother was the only Jehovah’s Witness, the only one not saluting the flag in the class, this observation was pointedly about her.

My mother raised her hand and when the teacher said, “Yes, Audrey?” she stood up and said, “The bible says in Psalms 50:10 that ‘all the cattle on a thousand hills belong to God’ so the milk we are drinking is not from the United States government, it is from Jehovah God the creator.”

I smile at the thought of her, with her dark curls and blushing cheek, and her blue eyes shining with defiance.

When my grandmother confronted the teacher and the principal and reminded them that the Supreme Court had ruled that she and her children, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, had the right to not salute the flag, the right to not say the pledge, the principal told her, “You are not in the halls of the Supreme Court of the United States. You are in the halls of my school in the great state of Virginia and we respect the flag here and we salute the flag here. Your children will salute the flag or they will be expelled.”

They were expelled for a while and when they were reinstated (because the principal was, after all, subject to the rulings of the Supreme Court of the the United States of America) my mother and her siblings (all in different grades) had to go outside in the hallway while the classes were saluting the flag and reciting the pledge, in order not to incite “disturbances.”

Social isolation and shaming with the intent to bully children into behavior? Check! Social stigmatization to manipulate not-so-malleable children? Check! The type of classroom coercion that was alive and thriving in the 40’s hasn’t disappeared — it is kicking its heels up in places around the nation, most recently a fifth grade classroom in Arkansas.

Here are some interesting links for further reading on saluting the flag in the United States:

USA Today on JW’s Legal History
Opinion piece: The Pledge of Allegiance is un-American
Flag salute cases

Free show — Leonid meteor shower

One of the most spectacular meteor showers of the entire year

The Leonid meteor shower is underway and is predicted to last from November 13 to 20. The best time to view it was this morning after 1:30 AM. But if you were unaware of the heavenly spectacle, otherwise engaged or maybe sleeping — you might still catch a glimpse of it tonight or in the coming nights through the 20th.

The new moon will allow the Leonid meteor shower to dazzle in tonight’s darkness.

Ticket’s have been comped by Mother Nature. Enjoy.

Tips for the show
Related article and poem

Chocolate to make you happy and butterflies in space

“If we are speaking of chocolate, sir, I should be happy to eat my words.”
— Annette Marie Hyder

New Evidence That Dark Chocolate Helps Ease Emotional Stress

A loud snap made them all jump. Professor Lupin was breaking an enormous slab of chocolate into pieces.
“Here,” he said to Harry, handing him a particularly large piece. “Eat it. It’ll help.” –
– Professor Remus Lupin, from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, By J.K. Rowling

Professor Lupin, quoted above, knew that chocolate was just the thing to offer Harry Potter after Harry was attacked by the soul-sucking and happiness stealing Dementor.

Besides being delicious, there is new scientific evidence to support the popular wisdom of prescribing chocolate as a mood enhancer.

ScienceDaily reports: The “chocolate cure” for emotional stress is getting new support from a clinical trial published online in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research. It found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed. Everyone’s favorite treat also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances.

Read the entire article here.

Butterflies in space

When NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis launches for the International Space Station today it will carry a University of Colorado at Boulder butterfly experiment that will be monitored by thousands of K-12 students across the nation.

ScienceDaily reports: The butterfly payload was designed and built by BioServe Space Technologies in CU-Boulder’s aerospace engineering department and will carry two butterfly habitats containing monarch and painted lady butterfly larvae and enough nectar and other food to support them as they develop. CU-Boulder, with the help of elementary and middle school students, will compare the growth and development of butterfly larvae in the weightless environment of the International Space Station with butterfly larvae being raised simultaneously in participating classrooms on Earth.

Dubbed “CSI03 — Butterflies in Space,” the project is the fourth K-12 educational experiment to be flown by CU-Boulder on ISS.

Read the entire article here.

Excerpt from Icarus and the Delicate Art of Wing Drying
From The Consequence of Wings (On Angels and Monsters and Other Winged Things)
Annette Marie Hyder

The butterflies shake their wings
the ink still wet
on every stitch-fine scale.
Wind fingers them
in mourning
reads them much like Braille.

What do lepidoptera gossamer
and shut-eyed wind
have to do with me now?

Link to butterfly related article and poem

Water on the moon!

Image courtesy MSNBC news

This NASA/JPL handout image shows an image of Earth from the Moon, acquired by NASA’s Discovery Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), that is a guest instrument onboard the ISRO Chandrayaan-1 Mission to the Moon. Water particles have been detected on the surface of the Moon by three missions, including an Indian probe.The evidence, disclosed in new scientific papers, overturns the long accepted view that lunar soil is dry and comes just two weeks before a NASA probe is to crash into the surface near the Moon’s southern pole to see if water can be detected in the dust and debris released by the impact. Australia is visible in the lower center of the image. The image is presented as a false color composite with oceans dark blue, clouds white, and vegetation enhanced green.

In the image above, the earth is seen from the moon. The moon surface, ripply and reflective, looks like water to me, with the earth hanging in the sky above it like a moon.

There is, officially, water on the moon

So, that missile launch last month (“plume on the moon”) paid off after all. NASA is reporting that the impact data from the launch indicates that there is water on the moon.

NASA reports:

The argument that the moon is a dry, desolate place no longer holds water.

Secrets the moon has been holding, for perhaps billions of years, are
now being revealed to the delight of scientists and space enthusiasts

NASA today opened a new chapter in our understanding of the
moon. Preliminary data from the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing
Satellite, or LCROSS, indicates that the mission successfully uncovered
water during the Oct. 9, 2009 impacts into the permanently shadowed
region of Cabeus cater near the moon’s south pole.

The impact created by the LCROSS Centaur upper stage rocket created a
two-part plume of material from the bottom of the crater. The first
part was a high angle plume of vapor and fine dust and the second a
lower angle ejecta curtain of heavier material. This material has not
seen sunlight in billions of years.

“We’re unlocking the mysteries of our nearest neighbor and by extension the solar system. It turns out the moon harbors many secrets, and LCROSS has added a new layer to our understanding,” said Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Read the entire article here.

I love to hear scientists waxing poetic (“It turns out, the moon harbors many secrets.” — Michael Wargo) and who can blame them?

The moon,
Annette Marie Hyder

awesome luminary of the night sky
administrator of tides
keeper of times
holds water cupped in its hands
while mystery lurks
and secrets glitter its sands.

Luna looks down at us
with hooded gaze
and we are mesmerized.