Monday, December 10, 2012

Enchantress of Words, Enchantress of Numbers, Enchantress of Wreaths

--Today is Emily Dickinson's birthday.  Last year, I wrote this blog post about her.  If you'd like a podcast of some of your favorite, 21st century poets (including me) reading Dickinson's poems and talking about her, see this wonderful offering that Dave Bonta put together in 2010.

--If you've used Google today, you'll know that it's the birthday of Ada Lovelace, and the drawing does a good job of showing how we get from her work to modern computers.  What the Google drawing doesn't tell you is that Ada Lovelace is the daughter of Byron.

--Yes, that Byron, the "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" British poet, one of the most famous of the Romantic literary time period. 

--Ada Lovelace is not the daughter of Byron and his half sister, but of Byron and Annabella Milbanke, the ill-fated marriage.  For a variety of reasons, none of them having to do with Byron, she grew up studying math and doing equations.  She also wrote--not poems, like her famous father, but papers on math and translations of other mathematicians.  She collaborated with fairly famous mathematicians, like Charles Babbage, who called her "The Enchantress of Numbers."

--We sometimes forget how the 19th century was an age of science, math, and exploration, and most of us were never taught how much of that work was done by women.  In so many ways, it was the dawning of a new age, and women were able to slip through the doors before their way would be barred a generation or two later.

--If we knew more of these early stories, would we see more women in the STEM fields?

--Of course, here in the U.S., we don't see many students of either gender interested in the STEM fields.  But I've just spent several days with young children, all of them under the age of 6.  Children don't start out life hating science and math.  How can we continue to encourage their curiosity and explorations?    How can we make the later years of school more like the first years of school?  More hands-on fun, less boring lectures:  that would be one way.

--Or maybe our changing planet will compel more students into Science classrooms.  Our heat index for today: 90 +.  Granted, it's South Florida, but it feels unusually warm, even for us.  Last week, we saw temps in the 70's in more traditionally cold places like Chicago.  Our planet is in trouble.

--It would be more accurate to say our habitat is in trouble.  The planet will likely be fine.  But the habitat that humans need will be shrinking dramatically in the coming decades.

--I would like it to be colder this time of year.  It's hard to feel festive when I'm sweating.  We watched A Christmas Story yesterday--such lovely, snowy scenes. 

--It's good to remember that all that snow would need to be shoveled.  I'd love to live in a snowy place if I got to sit inside and enjoy the view of flakes drifting by the window.  But if I had to shovel the driveway and deal with slippery roads, I doubt I'd be yearning for snow at Christmas time.

--A light dusting would be nice, though.

--Two weeks from today: Christmas Eve.  I will miss this Christmas season.  My spouse and I have been doing a good job of lighting the Advent candles and taking a few minutes to reflect and to pray.  Maybe we'll just keep going.  The Advent wreath will become the Christmas wreath which will become the Lenten wreath which will become the Easter wreath and then the summer wreath. 

--The disadvantage?  The Advent wreath won't feel as special next year.  The advantages, however, would far outweigh the disadvantages.

--Perhaps the creation of new wreaths and the continuation of the ritual through 2013 will be my resolution.  Let others worry about their weight.  Let others measure their worth in words generated.  I will commit to the wreath!

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

We both wrote about Ada!!