Old Reads: Swarmatron

On my way to reading an article by Atul Gawande in the January 24, 2011 issue of the New Yorker, I stumbled on a Talk of the Town piece about an odd electronic instrument called the Swarmatron.

Hadn’t paid attention to it when I first skimmed the magazine three years ago, but it sounds intriguing. Listen to the demo on YouTube, or watch an interview with Trent Reznor, who used the Swarmatron in the sound track for “Social Network.”

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Old Reads

One of my de-cluttering goals for this year is to work my way through the boxes of professional journals and magazines I’ve saved because “there’s an article I want to read.” Some of these boxes go back to 2001! (I’m not going to mention the 1984 box with Year 1 of MacWorld. No. Not going to talk about that. Stop asking.) For each magazine issue, I decide whether

  1. the article is no longer interesting. In that case, the issue immediately goes in the recycle bin.
  2. the article is still interesting, but not potentially useful. If the article isn’t fodder for an article or blog post of my own, I read it immediately and recycle the whole issue.
  3. the article will be useful for something I want to write. If so, I clip and file it, and recycle the rest of the magazine.

So far, most of the articles are still interesting, so it’s taking longer than I expected to get through the pile of boxes. A few of these articles may end up mentioned in short blog posts, under the tag “OldReads,” but only about 10% of the articles are still useful for longer articles I plan to write—my writing goals have changed a lot in the last few years—so I’m not adding much to my overflowing file cabinets. Even the more personal stuff (travel destinations, etc.) is less likely to wind up in a file drawer these days, since I’m no longer in proper physical condition for whitewater rafting, hiking the Andes, or crawling through extensive cave systems.

All in all, my de-cluttering progress is steady, if slower than I’d like.

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Well, that was a bust

So much for the January blog challenges. I think I got one post each done for NaBloPoMo and Small Stones. Definitely not a stellar moment in my blogging career. I’m also behind on my quest to scale Mount TBR — too busy knitting a baby sweater and a scarf for my husband to do much non-work–related reading.

Will February be different? We’ll see. I’ve signed up for

NaBloPoMo February 2014

and will attempt to catch up with my dusty shelf of books to read.

Baby steps. One step at a time.

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All it needs is a cat or three

Wordless Wednesday

woman working at desk in cluttered office

Artist: Emily Chan
DeviantArt Gallery: silentreaper.deviantart.com
Website: http://www.eychan.org/index.html


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Third Sentence Thursday 2014-01-02: Washington Square

In a country in which, to play a social part, you must either earn your income or make believe that you earn it, the healing art has appeared in a high degree to combine two recognised sources of credit.

Washington Square, Henry James (1880), p. 1.

Washington Square is the first book on my 2014 Mount TBR Challenge list. Originally published as a magazine serial, it struck my fancy for two reasons. First, I love the way James uses language. Like many 19th c. authors, his words demand to be read out loud; they taste good. Second, the setting for the story is a brownstone on Washington Square North in New York’s Greenwich Village, within spitting distance of my brother-in-law’s NYU faculty apartment.

Washington Square North

Henry James looks at family life and relationships with a peculiarly intense lens. The rigidly domineering father, the clueless wimp of a daughter, and the interfering relatives and friends would be irritating in real life, but are fascinating character studies when clothed in James’ elegant prose.

The “sources of credit” that the author ascribes to the healing art?

  1. “It belongs to the realm of the practical”
    The doctor may be a scholarly sort, but his remedies are quite specific and generally useful.
  2. “[I]t is touched by the light of science”
    Science was a big deal in America in 1880. The year’s newsmakers included Thomas Edison and Pierre Curie, and the journal Science was first published that February.
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Wordless Wednesday: 2014-01-01

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New Year’s Resolution #1 for 2014

purr more, hiss less

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