We applied the cortical electrodes

A standard test given at pre-op appointments is the EKG (electrocardiogram, where the k comes from I don't know) which measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. The information is useful to determine how well the heart is beating, and whether parts of the heart are larger than other parts. The electrodes themselves, in my case, were disposable stickers that were applied to my ankles, arms and chest. They don't deliver any electricity, they just record and transmit electrical activity. After the electrodes were attached, the test itself took a half minute (since it was basic. There are many other reasons to have an EKG, and the test itself can be more involved).

Now, provided nothing is expected to be wrong, it could be just another experience in a lab. BUT! To Firefly fans, EKGs are just shiny in that they provide the perfect opportunity to quote Jayne.

Simon: What about the cortical electrodes?
Jayne: Oh! (pause) Uh, we forgot 'em.
Jayne: (After being told to bring the DOAs to the morgue, determined to deliver the line he worked so hard to memorize) We applied the cortical electrodes but where unable to get a neural reaction from either patient.

Watch the full episode here.


Naturally intelligent

"It's not how smart you are, but how you are smart."

I attended a workshop yesterday that presented ways to implement Gardner's Theories of Multiple Intelligences and Goleman's Emotional and Social Intelligence research in programming for elementary age children. We didn't cover the intelligences in depth, or their many many possible applications (and neither will I here). Whether or not this research holds any weight in the world (and, I believe it does), I did leave with some great programming ideas, a better vocabulary set to understand and focus my work with kids, and validation of my instincts and hunches.

There is one intelligence that was new to me, and has been...well...bothering me a little bit. Gardner says that we all have access to all eight intelligences, though to varying degrees, and that they are equally important. The eight, as he has identified, are:
  • Linguistic (learn best by reading)
  • Logical-Mathematical (learn best with numbers and logic) (not me, by the way)
  • Spatial (visual learners -- think in pictures)
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic (learn best with physical experiences)
  • Musical (learn best in tempo and pitch)
  • Interpersonal ("people smart")
  • Intrapersonal ("self smart")
  • Naturalist ("to understand the natural world including plants, animals and scientific studies")
Not having really studied educational theories before, I think it will take me some time to work out the difference between "intelligence" and "talent," but naturalist intelligence is the most difficult for me to lump with the other seven. Certainly there are people who have more of a green thumb, are better with animals, can easily recognize and identify different flowers or understand The Tree of Life quickly.

People learn best when a meaningful connection is made, so it makes sense to me that for the kinesthetically intelligent among us, the pairing of movement and learning has a better chance of making that meaningful connection. With the first seven I can more readily think ways to extend a topic to tap into the intelligences, to encourage connections to be made in different ways. And (I found out) I do already.

Naturalist? There's a program called Paws to Read that brings trained therapy dogs into the library and allows children to practice reading aloud to a nonthreatening audience. That's the best example that I know of that I can think of. Experiences in nature are more stimulating for those who have heightened naturalist intelligence, so the next time my book clubs suggest having the discussion outside on a nice day, I will jump at the opportunity to stimulate this intelligence.

Link Love
Howard Gardner: Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and author of Frames of Mind (1983) that introduced the Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Multiple Intelligences Assessment
(I'm strongest in self, followed by spatial then nature) and Engaging the Intelligences

Multiple Intelligences and Childhood Development: a nice checklist of traits associated with each intelligence in both children and adults

Multiple Intelligences Research and Consulting
: just as it sounds

New Horizons: neuroscience articles that are actually easy to read


Fun with balls...

...quilted balls filled with cotton balls, or (as I call them) quilted cotton balls.

A friend pointed recommended that I try some of the patchwork puzzle balls from Jinny Beyer's book for a small project to have on hand while recovering from surgery (still a few weeks out). I was intrigued by the size and shape of the balls, and couldn't wait to try them out! I ended up putting my current project on hold for a few nights while I try some of the patterns.

I was looking for ways to use scraps from previous projects already, but the appeal these patterns held for me was the mathematics behind each pattern. Not that I'm a math whiz or anything, but it was very smart for Beyer to describe how to traditional patterns are reworked so they form a sphere. I was also looking forward to using and practicing with templates, which is something I had been putting off.

The filling is pure cotton. Beyer recommends a particular brand of cotton fill, but I just used cotton balls. The filling needs to be cotton, as other material is not dense enough to hold the shape, but given that I don't really have a use for quilted cotton balls, I wasn't about to spend money on quality cotton. I did unroll and separate (almost) every cotton ball before stuffing the sphere to reduce lumpiness, but I assume a higher quality cotton wouldn't be as lumpy as my balls are.

I haven't quite figured out a use for quilted cotton balls, though. The smaller one is now a basketball for a friend, and the larger is a catnip toy for my cats. That's enough, right?


Questo gelato è squisito!

The DH and I stopped into a gelato parlor on our walk from Pike Place Market to Pioneer Square, and happened to follow a group of children on a field trip into the place. (I would have loved field trips like that when I was young!) They were asking tons of questions about the gelato, and because my attention was focused on the quilt shop I spotted across the way, I hardly paid any attention to the answers. At some point in my life I knew what the difference between gelato and ice cream was, but I had to look it up again.

As About.com explains it, because gelato is made with whole milk (rather than cream) and churned at a slower rate, it has less fat and less air than American ice cream which allows for the intensity of the flavor. It is also typically served warmer than ice cream. Non-dairy varieties (sorbet, sorbetto) are typically made from fruit, suger and water, and are delicious and creamy as well.

I haven't found gelato in the twin cities area since Caruso's left Calhoun Square, but I'm definitely going to give Giulia's Italian Ice Cream near the University of Minnesota a try, and I'll keep my eye out for Ciao Bella gelati and sorbetti in the co-ops. Or, I could make another trip to Portland (gelato is everywhere!) or better yet, Italy.


Hatch Show Prints

One of the exhibits at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, and the one I was most geeked about when I visited recently, is the Hatch Show Prints collection. The Hatch brothers started printing advertisements in the late 1800s, and continued to design posters for various industries throughout the 1900s through today. The prints were made using hand-crafted wood blocks, many of which were displayed at the exhibit in Seattle. As anyone who has gone to the Renaissance Festival with me knows, I love getting up close to anything printing press related, and this was no different. I could have spent hours staring at the details in the giant wood blocks, and did spend a lot of time going back and forth between the wood blocks and the prints themselves.

I love the simple aesthetic of the prints, too, with simple color schemes, straight lines and big letters. It's much easier to go wild with design with digital tools -- not so much when you're carving your design into wood and putting one color on the print at a time.

If I ever find myself accidentally in Nashville, I'll be okay. I have something I want to do, and that is visit the Hatch print shop. Today it's a working letterpress/museum/archive/tourist attraction.


Is it just me, or is 2009 more expensive?

Expense Number One: Gallbladder surgery
I had a gallbladder attack in December (or, so I was thinking as I was collapsed on the floor in the staff room at work with pain radiating around my torso and trying not to vomit) and an ultrasound confirmed that I have multiple gallstones. For many women gallstones will go unnoticed, but for me -- I have the curse of the family gallbladder. Causes of gallstone formation are not known exactly -or they're not easy to explain to laypeople- but bile and cholesterol are most likely involved, and stored bile can become too viscous. Stones can be blasted, but surgical removal is the only way to guarantee that the stones won't come back. They can get stuck in a duct and cause other complications, so I'm convinced this is something that has to be done.

Expense Number Two: Basement Remodel
I'm excited about having the basement remodeled. I have a disgusting 100 year old basement, and a staircase that is not in good shape. The stairs definitely needed to be redone, and having the work done on the destination (i.e., the basement) will give us new and more space in the house. It was a nerve-wracking, yet easy decision to make.

It's also been a bit of a challenge, and I have learned the lesson yet again to trust my instincts. We're working with a reputable company, but I was a bit frustrated with the designer/salesman with the way he smoothed over details with us and didn't seem to hear us in October when we said that we wanted the work done in February. I wrote it off as my not knowing how to react to schmoozers, but his lack of attention to detail is staring me in the face in the form of cracked walls upstairs after his recommendation to remove load-bearing posts to make way for the concrete. The support beams (one was bowing, and as it turns out, rotting - but the main one needed to stay) were not incorporated into his plans, I think.

Expense Number Three: Flooding in the Pacific Northwest
We had a lovely vacation to Portland and Seattle in early January. I had booked everything through hotwire.com, and knew that it wouldn't be flexible when I booked flights, hotels and rental car at great rates, but I wasn't planning on changing plans. The plan was to fly into Seattle, drive to Portland, and then drive back up to Seattle via the Oregon Coast. Lovely, right?

Unfortunately, I-5 (the ONLY way to get between Seattle and Portland by car) was flooded. The main purpose for the trip was to visit our people in Portland, so we ended up flying (the purchase of the one-way tickets meant automatic pat-down from the TSA) and getting a ride back to Seattle. We left the original, pre-paid car in Seattle and rented a different one when we got back for the same price. We also had to forgo the pre-paid hotel in Seaside. Sadness. The lesson taught is that it can be better to work with a travel agent. You never know when you're going to be flooded in, or need to change plans for any reason.

And just a note -- I think anyone who reads this blog knows that lack of posting doesn't mean I've fallen off the face of the Earth. My way of dealing with the stress of extra expenses and the general displeasures of winter is to quilt, read, dork around on facebook and watch BSG. So I'm not blogging as often.