The Homeless Mathematician

When I was growing up, an unusual houseguest would show up at our door every few years. With steeply-arched eyebrows, a mile-wide grin, gigantic ears that looked like they could flap in the wind, and a wild tousle of white hair, he seemed to my 8-year-old self to resemble nothing less than an oversized hamster or rabbit. In a distinctive, nasal-whiney voice he would utter words in some unintelligible language that nevertheless seemed related to English. He called me and my brother “epsilons” and spoke of a mysterious food called “pea-napple-uppsheed-did-doven-tosh.” After a couple of weeks, he would disappear as suddenly as he had shown up.

Only years later, as an adult, did I learn that this man was one of the most famous mathematicians in the world: Paul Erdős. Continue reading “The Homeless Mathematician”

A trio of reads on Western land

The land and coasts that make up the West are many things to many people: recreation areas, sacred sites, grazing land, just to name a few. In the past five years we’ve seen an escalation, reflected in mainstream news stories, of the conflicts among groups with differing visions for public lands: from the ongoing fight over the designation of Bears Ears National Monument, to escalating action over federal land management that culminated last year in the occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, to a newly urgent discussion about what steps should be taken to save the orca whales of Puget Sound. No matter which side you agree with on these issues, there’s no denying that human actions have had a dramatic and direct impact on land, flora, and fauna. To dig deeper on a few issues, check out these recent books about our Western geography: Continue reading “A trio of reads on Western land”

Taming Bigfoot

This post and corresponding booklist were created by students at Nathan Hale High School as part of a teen service learning project. 

(Photo credit: Soraya Jessa)

Over the past nine months I have had the pleasure of volunteering with the non-profit organization Taming Bigfoot Seattle. Taming Bigfoot Seattle is a 1Sustainable Planet volunteer project, inspired and guided by retired NASA climate scientist Bob Bindschadler, that aims to engage the community in accelerating Seattle’s progress towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading “Taming Bigfoot”

Nap Time is my Happy Hour

Napping isn’t just for kids anymore. Sometimes on my days off just curling up with my cats and a good book I’ll find myself just nodding off a bit…and it’s wonderful! Same goes for work, when I’m working a late shift and the afternoon yawns hit, I’ll curl under my desk on my 15-minute break and take a little shuteye. Turns out, there’s a scientific reason for nap time.

From Scientific American (11/18/15):

We reach peak daytime sleepiness in the afternoon, making 2-3pm the ideal time for a nap. If you are an early riser, you may need to shift that time slightly earlier.

Napping between 10 and 20 minutes is best, and no longer than 30 minutes. Longer naps can cause you to feel groggy, something researchers call sleep inertia.

Set an alarm so that you can rest easy without worrying whether or not you’ll wake up in time for your next meeting or class.

Create a nap-friendly environment. Dim the lights and perhaps add some white noise or some low level classical music, whatever works for you.

Some people swear by the coffee-and-nap combo. Since caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in, you can swig a cup of joe and then take a 15-20 minute power nap.

 

Here are a few nap inspired reads to get you started! Continue reading “Nap Time is my Happy Hour”

Bird Week: Birds of the Pacific Northwest

The Seattle Public Library is partnering with the Seward Park Audubon Center for Bird Week, April 23-30, in celebration of the center’s tenth anniversary and the National Audubon Society’s 2018 Year of the Bird.

The Pacific Northwest region is blessed with many bird species and birdwatching enthusiasts.  With longer days, April is a fine month to appreciate wild birds.  To learn more about birds, check out the Birds of North America database by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  It offers a wealth of information on over 700 species – including biology, distribution, habitats, and migration.  There is also a multimedia gallery with vocalizations and videos. Continue reading “Bird Week: Birds of the Pacific Northwest”