Friday, January 17, 2014

Books I'm Reading: Mapping Mars

Oliver Morton's Mapping Mars (Picador, 2003), like so many books about science, is already out of date after only ten years. The rover Curiosity hadn't yet made its spectacular landing on Mars when Morton wrote his book. None of Curiosity's photos of the planet's surface had yet been created. The book is worth reading, nevertheless. Even if the author was unable to draw on the most recent waves of data from Mars, the book splendidly surveys how our conception of Mars has changed as new information about the place--perennially fascinating because it's both relatively Earth-like and almost entirely alien--has become available. The book is as much a survey of the culture of Martian science as it is a book about the planet itself: Morton writes fluently and engagingly both about Mars and about the people that have thought about the planet--astronomers and geologists mostly, but also artists and science fiction writers that have helped shaped the popular image of Mars. Recommended.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Found Art: Black Cloth (January 13, 2014)

Serendipitous Art: Black cloth
This black cloth was hanging in front of the glass pane in a door somewhere. I liked the pattern created by the uneven application of whatever was used to color it black. Unintended art, serendipitous art.

For more unintended art, see my blog Serendipitous Art.

Plants I'm Growing: First Blooms--Pink flowering plum, dwarf cyclamen

The pink flowering plum in the front of the house and the dwarf cyclamen, Cyclamen coum, behind the house are reliably among the first plants in the garden to bloom each year--although beaten this year by our white flowering plum, now in full bloom, smelling heavenly. The dwarf cyclamen began blooming on January 13, 2014. It bloomed on December 23, 2012 (which I counted as 2013) and also on December 23, 2011 (counted as 2012). It bloom ed on January 3 in 2010 and January 8 in 2009, so this year was a bit later than usual. The plum began blooming on January 14. It bloomed on January 20 in 2013, January 22 in 2012, and January 19 in 2011--so, somewhat early this year.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Rain: A Weekend Dribble

We had our first rain in more than a month on Saturday (January 11). Anything is welcome, but it was a dribble--hardly enough to make a difference. At my house, we got 0.05 inches. That brings the 2013-2014 season total to a meager 2.85 inches. Normal for this date is about 17.5 inches. We are badly in need of rain. In 13 years of living in Santa Rosa, this is the driest it's ever been. We are in for a droughty summer.
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