Change of Perspective: How Math Helps Us See the World Differently

For my Wednesday birthday treat I went to The Museum of Mathematics. The Change of Perspective lecture was given by professor Michael Orrison of Harvey Mudd College. At the end he put up a slide with a stanza from a Blake poem:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

After his lecture I really did see and understand those words in a new way. Unfortunately, I saw that my mind still shuts down and refuses to do math. But I had a few real aha moments during his lecture, and was able to apply what he was talking about to my world. I think he would be glad that his point regarding mathematics worked in another setting. It was kinda the whole point.

This lecture was part of a series called Math Encounters, but they have a lot of events there, I see, and one coming up next week involving math, wine, cheese and chocolate.

This is looking through the doors into the museum. The symbol for Pi was used for the door handles.


Exposed: A History of Lingerie

As I said, I’ve decided to make this my birthday week and every day I’m doing some fun thing in the city. I forgot to mention, it has to be free or very close to free. For instance, I went to the Met on Monday, but at the Met you can pay whatever you like so I paid a dollar. On Tuesday I went to the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

Speaking of FIT, I’ve always wondered why they are not the ones associated with the show Project Runway. Not that Parsons isn’t deserving but FIT is strictly about fashion. I just googled it. Tim Gunn was the chair of fashion design there when the show started. I love Tim Gunn. (One must never lose an opportunity to praise Tim Gunn.)

The show currently at FIT is all about lingerie. They wouldn’t let me take pictures inside the show but I was allowed to take pictures of the garments outside in the lobby. This was designed by a recent graduate, Vianna Occhino. The picture is not capturing the glittery elements in the skirt.


The Bachelorette – What the Hell?

I love watching The Bachelor and the Bachelorette, and Andi was on her way to becoming my favorite Bachelor/Bachelorette. I’ve always marveled at how the people on this show never ever ever ever have a conversation of any substance. They never talk about books, art, current events. And they still don’t, but Andi did seem on her way to raising the level of discourse. She recently asked one of the men on the show about the root of one of his problems and actually got him to talk about himself in something other than cliches. I’m pretty sure that has never happened before.

But the season has been hard to watch because one of the people on the show, Eric Hill, died soon after filming. In the most recent episode it got truly horrible. Eric pulled Andi aside and said something to her so completely real, something completely fair and reasonable, it was great. In response Andi had a meltdown. Her reaction was just so insane and over the top. She clearly misunderstood what he was saying. I think she’s just stressed. (I started to try to explain what happened, but you really need to watch from the beginning to understand.)

Anyway, the point is he raised the level of discourse. He also said one of the most truly real things that has ever been said on this show. AND, the gracious way in which he handled her meltdown is also unprecedented on this show. He had originally approached her to defend himself, and he was right to. But when she freaked out in response, he let her vent. He tried to calm her but he could see that in that moment she was beyond hearing or understanding. She was too upset right then to comprehend his point of view and addressing that, so he stopped trying to explain. He also did it in a way that showed his capacity for compassion and dignity.

I’m not trying to demonize Andi. I still think her reaction was insane, but again, stress, misunderstanding, and who hasn’t over-reacted in their lives. Also, the only other person to say something real was Andi herself, on her season with Juan Pablo.

It’s just that to watch that interaction, and to know that this wonderful person is no longer living was terrible. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for his family and friends. It highlighted how great he is, and now he’s just gone.

I changed my mind about what picture to post in light of this topic. This is a dog I photographed in Central Park the other day. I will always remember how at the end of Jon Stewart’s first show after 9/11 he pulled a dog out from under his desk and said something along the lines of, “Here is something we can all use right now. A puppy.”


Birthday Week

Today is my birthday, but I’ve decided to do one fun thing every day for a week. I know how to make a good thing last! (Sometimes.) Yesterday I went to the Met to see the show Beyond Fashion. I have no pictures because they don’t let you take pictures at special exhibitions. But I learned that all the draping and architectural things being done today are NOT NEW. Charles James already did it all.

After that show I wandered around. This is what kills me. When I was a kid the only thing I cared about at this museum were the mummies. Then there was a big long stretch where the only thing I cared about were the paintings. That lasted decades, and I’d go through phases about which periods or movements I preferred, or painter.

Now it’s I think what are called decorative arts? Furniture, vases and dishes and watches, etc. I’m absolutely captivated by it all. I think it must be from all these years of watching Antiques Roadshow. I took a few pictures. I mean Jesus Christ, will you look at this silver candleholder??

Before I forget, I kept looking at the names of the people who donated these objects and marveling at them. If this candleholder were mine I would never ever give it up.


Look at these feet!! And this is only one beautiful part of this beautiful table.


Unfortunately, most of my pictures are bad, and don’t capture all the shades of color and other details. But even in a bad picture you can see how amazing this little bowl is.


And this plate. Actually, my sister-in-law Robin makes beautiful plates, I have two! I just realized I never hear her talk about it. Maybe she’s stopped? I must ask.


Breathtaking. I was really drawn to silver yesterday. There’s also a very fine pattern drawn (etched? I don’t know the proper word) into the bottom half.


Karen, if you’re reading this I took this for Peter. The watches were so beautiful it was painful. I took a picture of this one because this is a watch! I can’t get over it. This is a watch. The one below is for Peter as well.


I’m sorry this one didn’t come out better. It was sitting below the butterfly watch and unfortunately I shot them both at the same time. I should have know better. But, a bug watch!!


Couch Cushions – Foam vs Feathers

Brief recap: I had my couch cushions refilled. They were originally filled with feathers, but now that I know how horrible the removing-feathers process is I had them filled with foam instead. I was afraid they’d come back too firm. And they did! But now I’m used to it and I like it.

The problem is, they sit much higher than before. It’s really only a few inches, but the coffee table feels too low to me now. Worse, my poor arthritic Finney can’t jump those extra few inches. I ordered pet stairs, and have a make-shift step in place in the meantime, that’s the red thing behind Finney.

And I used this opportunity to take better pictures of Finney. Another follows this one. I like that the prism reflections are hitting his face.


The couch cushions look great, though. The guy tried to talk me into reupholstering the couch. The price: $1,700! Can you imagine? Might as well buy a new couch.