My weblog ELECTRON BLUE, which concentrated on science and mathematics, ran from 2004-2008. It is no longer being updated. My current blog, which is more art-related, is here.

Thu, 09 Dec, 2004


It's Brumalia time, which is the period of the shortest days of the year. "Brumalia" is a Roman name for this time of year. The word is from a contraction of the Latin brevissima or "shortest." In this era of religious innovation, Neo-Pagans have devised neo-Roman-pagan celebrations for this holiday. Clever, those ancient Roman Internet webmasters! There is also the familiar refrain, oft repeated by educated folk, that "Christmas" is "just a borrowing from pagan celebrations, such as the 'Saturnalia,' that happened around the winter solstice," thus helping to prove to their satisfaction that Christianity is an eclectic and ultimately trivial mish-mosh of previous traditions. I am still wondering whether there is any "pure" cultural practice which does not borrow and transform anything from previous traditions. Bona Saturnalia!

I am doing the things I usually do around this time of year, which are "artsy." I make my own Christmas/holiday cards, cutting and folding and painting them individually with spray and spatter paint and markers. This is not as time-consuming or difficult as you may think, as it's easy to put about 15 or 16 down on newspapers spread on the floor and spray them all at once.

Each year I choose a different "theme color" which I use in art and graphics and clothes accessories. Sometimes I choose a combination of colors. I have been doing this for a long, long time. It is part of an artist's management of color, and ensures, over the long run, that I don't paint too many pictures or create too many graphics with the same color scheme. I get to "explore" a new color every year, and see how it can be effective in combination with other colors. Most of the time, I choose a bold, highly saturated color; for instance, the color for 2002 was deep luminescent blue, the color of my Honda CRV which is known as "Electron Blue." (See the header for this Weblog for the explanation of the color in "Why the Title?") But the last few years, I have chosen ladylike pastel colors. 2003 was lavender, 2004 was light sky blue, and 2005 is pale mint green. I can choose to jazz it up by calling it "electric green," which is the color of the brilliant flash you see when a transformer blows up. So my holiday cards for the winter of 2004-2005 are electric green.

I'll also be painting my journal note/sketchbook for 2005 that color. My Web journaling is a very recent phenomenon compared to my written journal, which I have kept, without interruption, since 1968. (Yes, 1968. That's 36 years. My written journal started during the time I was barely passing math, and hating every moment of it, in high school.) I write in it every night, although my entries may not always be gems of literary merit. Often it just chronicles what artwork I am working on, or what the weather was, or whether the Red Sox lost or won that night. It also contains a daily report of expenses. These mundane details prove to be useful years later when I am trying to track down a reference, or the date of a purchase. Occasionally I do get literary or philosophical. Every so often news from the wider world shows up in this journal, but it has to be something really important, such as the Red Sox winning the World Series. That merited half a page in big red headlines. I don't think I had ever done that before.

Most of these journals are illustrated, and in this, my mathematical/physics era, I put my math and physics notes in them too. As I review my classical mechanics, I refer back to my blue-painted 2002 journal which has many nicely illustrated pages on exponents, progressions, and the formulas for acceleration and the distance traveled while accelerating. The entry for August 17, 2002 features an account of an experiment I did in my Electron Blue car while driving on a straight and momentarily traffic-free highway. I accelerated from one round number to another, ten miles per hour faster (I did not exceed the speed limit, at least not by more than 5 miles an hour) in 13 seconds. When I had returned safely home, I put the numbers together to determine my rate of acceleration and the distance traveled. Change in acceleration divided by change in time gives me the (steady) rate of acceleration. The distance formula is more complex, made of components including time2 and the average of two quantities. Revisiting my journal notes, written by me and for myself, is a good way to review what I need.

I wonder whether any professional physicists make their own holiday cards, choose "theme colors" for the year, and decorate their journal-books, or even keep personal journal-books. These things are from the realm of artists (and women) and I would be interested whether any such thing crosses the cultural and gender gap between artists and scientists.

Posted at 2:48 am | link

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