Saturday, April 6, 2013

Nature Beauty and Gratitude - Unwinding after a Wicked Week

We get so wrapped up in our busy selves we forget ... to stop ... and look at the beauty that surrounds us ... to listen to the words of a spendid poem  ... to admire the sights we pass by each day ... to savour each bite of our meal.. to enjoy the people we meet and talk with ... to hear the music and  to slow down and live in the moment.

If these words resonate you might want to check out The Quiet Place Project. I have the iPhone app on my phone. If you need to slow down some time and be quiet with your world you might want to visit The Quiet Place.

This is going to be the shortest post of original words that I have ever posted, I think.  My mind is not really on Toronto today.   I had  a hectic week and after I complete one more item from my job jar I will be  heading up north soon for some time with friends.  As spring approaches and so does the anniversary of the start of my epic journeys of last year, thoughts of some of the beautiful places I saw wander in and out of memory.  Such memories as the one represented by the picture above when I spent 4 days in the French Alps at Chamonix.  I could have stayed there a lifetime.

Since it is poetry month, I need to slip a poem in here and there is one which I think fits my theme, since music is my choice way to de-stress. I have written before of the musician Luciana Sousa and how she has set some of Neruda's poetry to music in one of her albums.  Here is another from her album  "The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Other Songs". Luciana Souza put these lyrics to music in a Carole King type arrangement and its folksy and  yearning style is a perfect match for the words.  I couldn't find it on You Tube so I  had to create one myself.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

One More Cup of Coffee for the sake of Science!

I had the great treat of heading out to Kitchener/Waterloo on Friday to visit with my son Eric and his sweetie Charlotte.  The day's highlight was a tour of the Perimeter Institute, where Charlotte works as a Scientific Programs Assistant. The architecture of the building is very impressive in both creature comforts as well as aesthetics - nice to see that the world's top researchers in physics are well looked after and are surrounded with things to support creativity and foster brain power.  There are lots of spaces (aside from the offices) with casual, comfy lounges for fireside theoretical math discussions and recreational facilities like fooseball and squash courts when they need to get away from the heavy thinking.  Apparently this work also requires lots of coffee - expresso, of course, and there is a machine at the ready 24/7!

According to Wiki:
The building design was awarded a Governor General's Medal for Architecture for the design in May 2006. The building next to PI, housing the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, won the same award for its architects in 1997. Perimeter Institutes's building features an open glass facade along the north and west sides, contrasting with the slate-black metal walls of much of the rest of the building. Each researcher's office, as well as various lounge areas, features a full-wall blackboard for those huge equations which is a necessary work tool for solo or group work theorizing. The 55,000 square feet expansion, The Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter, opened in 2011. 

From the Perimeter Institute website:
Perimeter Institute is a leading centre for scientific research, training and educational outreach in foundational theoretical physics. Founded in 1999 in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, its mission is to advance our understanding of the universe at the most fundamental level, stimulating the breakthroughs that could transform our future. Perimeter also trains the next generation of physicists through innovative programs, and shares the excitement and wonder of science with students, teachers and the general public.
The Perimeter Institute is funded through a combination of public and private donors and is a world class facility supporting an International team of researchers.  Mike Lazaridis (co-founder of BlackBerry/RIM) is the Perimeter Founder and Board Chair.  A long time supporter of scientific research for such places as the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, he announced this week that he is leaving Blackberry to focus his efforts on Quantum Valley Investments, a $100-million fund he launched with Doug Fregin, a co-founder of Research In Motion/BlackBerry.

All this is pretty exciting stuff - if you go to their website you can read more about the sorts of research being done here - to save you a click here is the introductory paragraph.

Perimeter Institute is a major centre for theoretical physics research, attracting a diverse community of resident and visiting scientists from around the world. They cluster in a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary environment to forge new, mind-bending ideas about the ultimate nature of our universe, from space and time to matter and information. Over 150 resident researchers and 1,000 visiting scientists a year work to unlock nature’s most profound secrets hidden deep inside the atom and far across the universe

If you look at the listing of who's who for Perimeter Institute you will see Stephen Hawking is "Distinguished Visiting Research Chair" and he has not only the most recent expansion of the building named after him but also works there during part of the year.   

For my blog sphere friends from afar, "Kitchener-Waterloo" (K-W), 100 KM to the NW of Toronto,  is  Canada's 10th largest metropolitan area. Made up of the Cities of Kitchener and Waterloo (also known as "The Twin Cities but you can't tell where one starts and the other ends so I think they must be conjoined twins LOL).  Waterloo is a hot bed of high tech companies and has 2 Universities so it is a place of top drawer brain concentration.    The City of Cambridge is also in the K-W Metropolitan area, but for some reason it doesn't merit an initial in the K-W moniker.  I guess KWC sounds too much like a radio station.

I scored a great blackboard coffee mug.  I guess theoretical physicists always need to be near a blackboard, not only was there a mini blackboard on the coffee mug (and chalk was provided!) but there were blackboard surfaces everywhere - many with bits of math on them - which I was warned not to photograph!

It just so happened that Eric was hosting his monthly Rock Band Game night at the Rum Runner pub and so I went along and helped schlep the equipment and after a tasty pub dinner, enjoyed the musical stylings of the various K-W Rock Band enthusiasts.  I think everyone in the room was harmonizing at the top of their voices when Bohemian Rhapsody was the chosen song.  A good time was had by all!  It seems that more than a few of  K-W's scientists like to rock it out on a Friday night.  I just might go back again after I practice a few tunes!

The coffee mug sits proudly on my shelf in my  office and that prompted me to look for a good "Coffee Song" to include in this blogI found a Dylan song which has been covered by quite a few really great voices, but my preference was for this version by a little known band from the Netherlands by the name of Heger Walter Band.


One More Cup Of Coffee

by Bob Dylan

Your breath is sweet
Your eyes are like two jewels in the sky
Your back is straight your hair is smooth
On the pillow where you lie
But I don't sense affection
No gratitude or love
Your loyalty is not to me
But to the stars above

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go.
To the valley below.

Your daddy he's an outlaw
And a wanderer by trade
He'll teach you how to pick and choose
And how to throw the blade
He oversees his kingdom
So no stranger does intrude
His voice it trembles as he calls out
For another plate of food.

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go.
To the valley below.

Your sister sees the future
Like your mama and yourself
You've never learned to read or write
There's no books upon your shelf
And your pleasure knows no limits
Your voice is like a meadowlark
But your heart is like an ocean
Mysterious and dark.

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go.
To the valley below.

The Original by Bob Dylan
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