Luce del giorno: Cinquain VI and VII

Cinquain VI

First light
Eyelids clenched tight
“You are not here if I don’t look”
Child says.

The itch to peek
Beyond paralysis
To ascertain if there is need

Hope monsters flee
Replaced by gentle sun
Blessed by all warm love around me

Cinquain VII

Comes round. Think hard.
Take measure of my life
What has been done or left undone?
We’re asked.

Perhaps useless
Charity matters most
Above all choices one can choose
To love.

When most challenged
Scrubs away at the dross
Which entombs the beauty within

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010/photo (c)cjarc/Grace Cathedral

Notte Nebbia (night fog): Cinquain V

Bending Tunnel by Jacob Stadtfeld

(Dear Friends ~ Writing melancholy prosody is like listening to the blues; exploring the dark places leads to the Light. Just roll with it, okay? I am working on this particular form. Cinquain VI will take the contrast. Thanks to my son for the photo.)

Cinquain V

Inky shadows
Pressing hurt within me
Until I submit to madness
And weep.

Darker darkness
Finds the night inside me
Further gashing wounds in my gut
I rot.

With dawn
Daylight whispers
I hide behind curtains
Sinister morning mocking me
Stay out.


Felice sorpresa: Stephen Fry Pays a Visit!

Early one afternoon after having returned from errands, I walked into the spacious living room of the Eichler-inspired home into which I had just moved with my teenage sons and surly cat. I found Stephen sitting round the dining table, sorting through boxes of old photos. Lively conversation between my sons and Uncle Stevie bounced between the history of the English Reformation, the Elightenment, and geek-talk. I was grateful to smell a fresh pot of coffee wafting in from the kitchen. Perfectly perfect. Stephen, ever so thoughtful, knew how delighted I would be over such a simple kindness. Of course, the man has his own grand affair with well roasted cuppas, and it may have been a matter of two birds and all.

Stephen the doting uncle- the boys adore him. He has stepped into this role with graciousness and affection at a time when grief and loss, anger and disappointment, and the experience of abandonment has overwhelmed us beyond imagining. And here he is, with his wit and cheer and indefatigable charm filling our lives with light. The man has perfect timing in all ways. He greeted me with such a hug. I am a tall woman, and to receive a hug from a fellow of six-feet four-ish makes me feel girlish and almost petite. Not easy to explain, but those of you in my heels will understand this is a rare experience. In those long arms I felt a moment of utter safety- that no harm could ever touch me again. Why did I hide the truth from him for so long when he was always so ready to help, and ever generous with his time and resources? My family was laughing again after a long drought. Enjoying the pleasure of some fine company after the big failure.

Within me, there is shame in admitting failure. An individual of whom I am quite fond, an immigrant from Glasgow, likes to explain that one of the reasons he was attracted to America was because he observed the ethic that there was no shame in failure. That one of the primary cultural contracts is one can swing and miss, and it’s okay. You dust yourself off, pick up the bat, and have another go. In fact, failure is seen as necessary for success. In many ways, I would agree. How about failure versus not succeeding? I‘m able to discern a few exceptions, but in general he is on the right course. But there remains one area in which failure is often judged as a character flaw, and that is the failure of one’s marriage.

How is failure different from not succeeding? I posed this idea to a wise friend. Failure, he said, is the result of having exhausted all your options. But failure to succeed or lack of success implies that hope of reaching your goal is alive. Yes, I have failed. I am stuck. I am neither here nor there but wandering in the Mahasunn of this purgatory. I don’t know who I am other than I am becoming. I had forgotten how to be, and that I

Learning how to be…

As the gentlemen shuffled the photos, Stephen found one he particularly fancied and asked as to whether he might keep it or have a copy.  It was taken on a trip when the man-children were eight and twelve.  On a fallen tree spanning a gentle creek, two shining faces smile into the camera. “Why this one?”  I asked him. He replied that in it he saw an innocence in those faces before the deluge of changes came about.  And he wanted the boys to see the picture when they came to visit him, as a reminder that they knew once how to be happy and would be so again.

We drank our coffee and snacked on fruit. Stories were shared. Small advice was offered. Such a delightful afternoon. And then I was awake. (c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010

Scherzo Tutti: Symmetry Violation

Our resident physicist & occasional guest columnist Claude Plymate offers something for our lazy summer brains to consider.

Symmetry Violation

There is something very strange about the universe we live in and the evidence is quite literally all around us. Go ahead, look around. What do you see? Stuff. Everywhere, stuff. Now that might not seem all that profound at first until you think about the conditions in the very early universe. In the smallest fraction of a second after the Big Bang, the entire Universe was compacted into a tiny volume. All the energy in the Universe was contained it this minuscule space. The temperature was so extreme that matter couldn’t yet even exist! The immense energy density would cause material to spontaneously pop in and out of existence. As the Universe expanded, energy was spread over a greater volume and the temperature dropped. Matter & antimatter began to condense out but would pair up and annihilate almost immediately.

Now we were taught that matter & antimatter are exactly symmetric differing only in the sign of some of their parameters, such as charge and spin. It would seem, therefore, that they should have been produced in equal quantities. But obviously this was not the case. After all the matter & antimatter paired up and converted back to energy, there was a small residual amount of matter left over – all the stuff you see around you! All matter we see today is a result of this minor excess in production of matter over antimatter. Apparently, our Universe has a slight proclivity for stuff versus anti-stuff. The fact that more matter was originally produced is what is known as a symmetry violation. (Specifically CP-violation. “C” for charge conjugate and “P” for parity meaning the particles are mirror images of each other.)

Why there is a preference for stuff over anti-stuff isn’t really understood. As a physicist, it would be more satisfying to have a nice simple symmetric universe but without this complication, the Universe would be a very bland place without any matter to look at, or for that matter, no “you” to look at it. It seems quite profound how perfectly CP-violation is tuned to allow a universe so well suited for things like us to exist. Many might see this as an example of intelligent design by some omnipotent deity. It is all too easy to come to such a conclusion. But, must such remarkable-seeming coincidences require invoking the supernatural? Some might argue “what else could it be?” Not at all if you assume ours is not the only Universe, only one amongst an unimaginably huge and diverse multiverse. It doesn’t matter how unlikely the combination of parameters are, if you try enough examples, you’ll eventually hit upon the ideal magical seeming mix. And of course, we find ourselves in one of the extraordinarily rare universes that is ideally fine-tuned to allow us to exist. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be any stuff and wouldn’t be any you to look at it.


Claude Plymate, Engineering Physicist

National Solar Observatory