Something is Going Well Around Here!

The 1,000 “like” road marker disappearing in the rear view mirror…

The WP auto-post function just told me that I have accumulated 1,000 “likes,” which are all because the imaginary “you” have been appreciating what I’ve been pouring forth since June 22nd. It hasn’t been four months yet and I have so many “likes!” Who knew?!?

I’ve logged 87 posts (one was a repeat, so doesn’t really count and one was a reblog in respect for a new WordPress-induced friend) in 111 days, meaning that I’ve hit about 78% of the days between start and present. Not bad. Could be better. Let’s see if I can pick up the slack.

Thank you, everyone!


I Was Nominated (and Accept)

Confabler nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award!

My distant, yet close friend Confabler has nominated me for the Shiny Shiny Sunshine Award. I love her imagination and sense of whimsy; she lets her muse du jour lead and she follows. There’s a wonderful freedom to that which is (1) difficult to allow in the rational process of “writing” and (2) enjoyable to find.

1. If you were to choose an insect that would take over the world after human extinction, who would that be?

It sort of depends on our route to extinction. If it involved an epidemic, the population of flies might see a giant uptick. This would be a good one:

Gauromydas heros

If it is a slow process, then I nominate the Japanese Rhinoceros beetle because it would be awesome if creatures  with such improbably fashioned protuberances were to be the alpha species (Megasoma and Titan beetles would be acceptable alternatives):

Allomyrina dichotoma

 If our extinction took all other terrestrial life along for the ride, I would like to see this enormous isopod (a relative of our terrestrial roly-polies) rule the seas (note inclusion of actual human hands for sense of scale):

The underside of a male Bathynomus giganteus, a species of giant isopod captured in the Gulf of Mexico in October 2002.

2. How old were you when you first read Harry Potter? And your favorite author of course?

I was pretty old when I read my only Harry Potter book (the first one). I didn’t enjoy it enough to complete the series, although I’ve seen all the films and enjoyed them well enough. In the period I read that first one, I was typically reading a lot of history and didn’t find that it was a good use of my time. When I was really young, I read the Classics Illustrated versions of novels, which were quite good at introducing a curious young mind to the wonders of literature without having to do the work (sort of illustrated CliffsNotes (I didn’t use these in school though), if you will). When I was a little older, I read Robert E. Howard, Sax Rohmer, John Carter of Mars, H. Rider Haggard, Stanley Weinbaum, George McDonald fantasies, etc.

My favorite author is Gabriel Garcia Marquez for One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. His writing is so rich, amusing, full of simple wisdom and abundant humanity it is hard to believe he was just a human being writing about the lives he saw playing out around him. I literally would read some passages and have to put the book down as if I had just sipped the richest chocolate elixir in the world and needed to savor it until I sipped again. His Spanish-to-English translators did a good job in getting it right; Gregory Rabassa (OHYoS translator) was even praised by Garcia Marques himself!

3. If you were invisible what is the craziest thing that you would do?

Here’s an odd one: Go and hang around bigots, transcribe their conversations, and publish them for the world to see how terrible people speak when they think no one is listening (but, oh yeah, we have the internet so this already happens). If I could walk through things, which seems fair since I’m invisible, I would go around seeing what it felt like to do that—see if there were different textures to different things on the inside than on their surface.

4.what food makes you feel like a hungry hyena?

This has changed so much over time! These days, I don’t get this kind of urge anymore. In my early adult (late teen?) years… ICE CREAM!!!!

5. A song that makes you dream?

Gymnopedie #1 by Erik Satie

6. Have you ever planted a tree?

Yes. Unasked but answered: quite a few!

7. Choose your man: superman/ Spiderman/ iron man and if he was your best friend one thing that you would make him do?

Can I choose Supergirl? If I can, I would have her take me around to various places in the world, build shelters so I could stay there and visit free, then whisk me off to the next place on “our” list (she would be enjoying the sight-seeing with me, of course! What kind of boor do you think I am?!?!).

8.How much time do you spend in front of the mirror everyday?

As little as possible, which involves shaving and brushing my teeth. I find that shaving my teeth first helps with the brushing.

9.why you started blogging and tell us about the post enjoyed the most making.

I was having a bunch of conversations with people who did not seem to understand the wonderful humility of learning and doing science and wanted to see how well I could write about how science is a discipline that can assist us all in not leaning out too far over our skis (getting ahead of ourselves and pretending we know stuff we don’t). Blogging has become so much more than that since my first post on June 22, 2016, and I have had so much fun writing fiction and revisiting some poetry I wrote several decades ago (and finding them easier to “fix” than I remembered).

I’m not sure which of my posts I enjoyed the most. They’re all my children so I like them all? I probably like the odd bits of fiction that I had no idea were inside me when I woke up and then found them on the page looking up at me. I like The Big Day of these. Of the science posts, I like The Mess: Parts 1 & 2 and the Appendix 1 items best (maybe). Of the historical pieces, I like Risk Management. Of the life pieces, I like Building Blocks the best. Anyone who reads this is encouraged to make up their own mind; I am hopelessly biased.

10. Which social media platform are you addicted to (including WordPress)?

I don’t do much social media except WordPress. I don’t like Facebook at all and deleted my account. WordPress is addicting but in a very healthy way! You get to create something and share it with new friends from all over the world. That’s a great addiction have.

Now the rules:

1.thank the person that nominated you.

Thank you, Confabler. You are a true virtual friend, and I don’t mean that in any Pokemon way either!

2. Answer the questions from your nominator.


3. Nominate fellow bloggers you follow.

Hereinafter lie the following nominees in no particular order (order, of course, being an illusion):

Confabler – it would be completely wrong not to boomerang this thing back at her; how could I like what she writes and like that she nominated me but ignore why we share interests at all?

November_child –  in her poetry, every word is judiciously considered for its various meanings and the images they stir and she makes great short stories that are deep and playful and serious all at the same time

anonymouslyautistic – for doing an AMAZING job of writing about this misunderstood spectrum of living – and for inviting others who share her interest to contribute

English Lit Geek – because she searches the web and her library for poems that communicate her inner soul to us all out here in the ‘sphere and I appreciate this!

Wiser Daily – because this guy writes REALLY well about every single subject he wraps his mind around, because he is not a scientist but writes extremely clearly about science, because he is just a damned good writer!

Breathmath – because they are doing an astonishingly serious job of trying to get the world to see the beauty in mathematics

Sheryl – because she’s written a book, is working on others, has great tips for doing the same, and kindly visits my offerings fairly often

The Nexus – because he writes REALLY well about physics and does a great job of doing what I set out to do, whether I’m doing it on any given day or not

The Biology Yak – because she is passionate about biology and shares her passion in every word on every topic she chooses

afternoonifiedlady – even though I have no idea what it is to be an afternoonifiedlady, I love her rants about living with and without her ex and trying to wrestle with notions of romance – she is very witty and amusingly pissed off!

Yaskhan – for her lovely, succinct way with words

urbanagscientist – because she is at least as worried about the misunderstanding of science as I am

Luke Atkins – because he writes really well about difficult subjects and he writes like the stuff matters a lot, which it absolutely does!

And there are more in my list of 119 writers that I am following but this is enough for now.

4. Give them 10 questions to answer.

If you wish (and I clearly cannot impose this on any of you, please respond to confabler’s funny questions. I enjoyed them, maybe you will too!

Kind regards, MSOC

It was Generous of confabler to choose me. Now I have to Jump off and do other stuff!

My Mother

She was born in 1908, a different era than most of us can imagine without the help of film. She had dual citizenship (British/American) until she was 18. She was probably more British at her core than English but was more direct than the British tend to be; they are direct, although you must read through their words to understand. At some point in her childhood or adolescence, she decided that drama, the theatre, acting, directing, the whole art, was for her.

She was born in 1908, a different era than most of us can imagine without the help of film and good histories. She had dual citizenship (British/American) until she was 18. She was probably more Scottish at her core than American but was more direct than the British tend to be; they are direct, although you must read through their words to understand. At some point in her childhood or adolescence, she decided that drama, the theatre, acting, directing, the whole thespianic journey, was for her. She started acting in a major southern city at her prestigious preparatory school, graduated to the local amateur theatre, did summer stock around the country, even did a couple of plays on Broadway, then WWII happened. She joined the Red Cross and went to Europe to help out, both as an aid to recovering troops and as an entertainer (she called them skits). When she returned, she met my dad, married, adopted me, looked for other theatres, wherever my dad moved (US Navy), kept on acting, all the while accumulating programs, photos, and reviews of plays in which she appeared. At some point, and I don’t really know when, she started directing. In the late ’50s, we were posted to the tiny Meditteranean island of Malta, where there was a theatre company managed by twin British sisters (they eventually became “Dames of the British Empire”). She auditioned for Chekhov’s The Chalk Garden and became the female lead (now, for all her dual citizenship, she was an American stationed there with a Navy officer, so her transition to a British stage company, “amateur” though they might have been, was sort of remarkable – and besides, when the British folks use the word “amateur,” they simply mean it is an avocation, something is done for passion but done with utter commitment). She went on to do several others and actually directed Twelfth Night (Shakespeare for the non-literati in my imaginary readership) while we were there. This was the theatre in which this amateur group staged most of its performances, although it also did an annual summer performance al fresco on the steps of San Anton palace leading up from the gardens (also used as a nice setting for A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream the previous year) (second photo down).


Manoel Theatre, Malta

The plays were staged using the steps area as the proscenium

When we returned to the States, she got back into it in our new city, then we moved to a small southern town. Within a year of arriving, she was fit to be tied (as she used to say). She started the local little theatre. I don’t entirely remember how it began but within a couple of years (or maybe immediately) she was managing, producing, and directing an entirely voluntary, amateur little theatre company through four plays and a musical every year. All of the plays ran Thursday through Saturday night, all of them starting at Broadway time (8:15 PM) with occasional matinees on Saturdays. On occasion, she would take the company on the road to college campuses and do a sparse version of the play (she didn’t take the sets with her). During the five weeks between plays, she would audition the people that came (she had some regulars, but they were open auditions), build the sets, rehearse five (or more) nights a week starting roughly at 7:30 (family dinner was at 7), helped build the sets (usually directed their building, sizing, painting, erection), worked through lighting, blocked out movements, got the music right (live “pit band” for musicals). Oh, and she had to “dress” the sets, which usually meant that several pieces of furniture, etc. went missing from our house for long periods of time, sometimes repeatedly, and the rest of the stuff she had to source from somewhere while maintaining zero inventory of production furniture (although the sets were used and reused, of course). Somehow, she  corraled all of these volunteers into a generally error-free set of performances five weeks later. She was less successful getting her teenaged sons to help, although we did in our half-assed way when pressed). Now, to do this she was also reading an entire season of likely plays, blocking out the next play down the calendar from her current play, getting tough with people who weren’t meeting their obligations (although she never lost any of the folks she got tough with, so she did it without shaming or humiliating them), and cooking exceptionally good evening meals (preparing breakfast and lunch for us during school and summer as well) for her two kids and her husband, who had his own job, post-Navy. And she created and managed the non-profit organization into which ticket was collected. She received a small honorarium per season and the revenue helped buy lights, set materials, pay a carpenter (this became necessary later on), print programs (she took care of those too), place ads, etc.


She ran this little theatre for 25 years at this pace until her death about 25 years ago. She was 82 and had been wrestling with vascular disease for at least the last ten of those years. To top it all off, she was reasonably sane for a member of the theatre community (with apologies to all the reasonably sane members of the theatre community – you know what I mean).

I’ve had a good life and probably have several more decades to go, but my mother was a force of nature, a phenomenon, a whirling dervish who appeared calm and collected virtually all the time.

Here’s to my mother, a critical actor in many dramatis personae, including my own and all the people who worked with her!