Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Hadron Collider....Sicilian Odyssey...Shelter Dogs--Short Takes for Tuesday

Three seemingly unrelalated posts on wildly disparate topics.  What they have in common is how they each have shaped my thinking and outlook over the past six months, and how eager I am to share my observations with my readers.  Enjoy!

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Scientists are earnestly studying the origins of the Universe, bringing their expertise to bear on replicating conditions that may have produced the Big Bang and analyzing the results for clues to the creation of, well, everything. 

Last night in Geneva Switzerland, the Hadron Particle Collider succeeded in colliding protons at record energy levels. Scientists gathered in Geneva, at Cal Tech and other locations world-wide, eagerly waiting with pizza and camaraderie, all night, to observe the collision.  Soon, a lot of data will be analyzed.

"Researchers were waiting for the promised flood of data that would come as protons from two particle beams from the 17-mile-circumference collider smashed into each other.   Several experiments using the particle accelerator could help test for smaller particles, dark matter, other dimensions, supersymmetry and other theories in particle physics, researchers said."  Click here for a full article from the Los Angeles Times.

I have followed this story on and off for several months.  I remember discussing it with a good friend months ago; my interest was renewed afer reading physicist Michio Kaku's book on Physics of the Impossible.  I wonder, though, if any man-made collider could withstand a reaction as strong as the actual big bang.  Probably not, although the prospect of the world exploding from a physics experiment took my breath away for a second or two.  I have a lot of catching up to do, science-wise.  But I do find it exhilarating, and fascinating, as I never expected....  One of the unforseen benefits in my efforts at personal re-invention.

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As I commemorate my Grandparents' 100th Birthdays, I have immersed myself in the culture and language of Italy.  This allows me to feel the presence of these two people who I miss awfully, especially now. 

My Italian class is a transport for me, more than a mere language course.  I feel as though, speaking the ancestral language, I have made an archetypical connection; spoken loudly and properly, I am speaking operatically.  It's a connection to history and culture that are in my very blood. 

I started reading a book called "Sicilian Odyssey" by Francine Prose (what a perfect name for a writer!).  Her "Reading Like a Writer" was a huge inspiration to me as a budding writer and as a vertan, hungry reader. "Sicilian Odyssey", published in 2003, is part history of its culture and art, part modern travelogue, part affectionate appreciation of  its people.  Her description of the Sicilian termperament mirrors my own life observations:  

"Though Sicilians have a a reputation for dourness, for severity, for short violent tempers and an agonized religiosity, the fact is that almost every casual social interchange we have is characterized by sweetness. "
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The shelter was busy tonight, and the dogs were extremely affectionate.  My heart belongs to a new arrival, an 8-month-old chihuahua; and also to Hickory, a friendly (and vocal) overweight brown and white Cocker Spaniel; Trooper, an alert and playful German Shepherd mix; Casper, a quiet and massive Golden mix with sore hips; Roxi, a deaf German Short-Haired Pointer who is spotted like a Dalmatian; and Chuck, a very shy but loving Black Lab.

Of all of the changes I have made, becoming a part of this Shelter at the Buddy Foundation has been one of the most significant.  Nothing excites me more, or calms me more, than the satisfactions of easing the lonely existence of these creatures, and helpng connect them with good-hearted people who have a place in their homes.

I heard a rumor that there will be a delivery of some Bassett Hound puppies soon.... If so, then Mark and I, as well as my readers, will be in big trouble!


  1. When you talk about new arriavls my heart sort of breaks when I think of where these poor things came from but thank god they have you at least Tom.
    Bless your heart. And that shelter too.

  2. I'm so glad your four legged buddy have someone like you to watch over them!

  3. Awww, look at them puppies! Surely there's not a more beautiful sight than a bunch of floppy eared, short-legged, loose-skinned, big-pawed, sweet, playful and affectionate basset puppies. I agree, you and Mark ARE in trouble. LOL! Bless you for your work with the shelter. That's marvelous. Great post!