Aug 10, 2014  •  In Art/Design, Personal, Touching

Artist’s Self-Portraits Chronicle His Descent into Alzheimer’s

In 1995, artist William Utermohlen (1933-2007) learned that he had Alzheimer’s disease. For the last five years of his life, he tried to understand the disease by painting himself — a series of self-portraits which revealed the progression of his dementia.

The paintings, which were shown in 2006 at the New York Academy of Medicine in Manhattan by the Alzheimer’s Association, are heartbreaking to say the least.

The paintings starkly reveal the artist’s descent into dementia, as his world began to tilt, perspectives flattened and details melted away. His wife and his doctors said he seemed aware at times that technical flaws had crept into his work, but he could not figure out how to correct them.

As you can see from the first portrait in the series, Utermohlen was a fairly naturalistic artist before the onset of Alzheimer’s. The abstract, surrealist paintings that follow are characteristic of the Abstract Expressionism movement of art — a genre he refused to embrace at his prime but ironically became the source of his fame.

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Aug 8, 2014  •  In Art/Design, Books, Entertainment, Geek, Movies

The Giving Groot

Have you guys seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet? I was able to catch a showing opening weekend, and although I liked it a lot (I’ve loved Chris Pratt ever since he first stepped foot on the Parks and Recreation set), I didn’t believe it was as fantastic as most people made it out to be.  :-|  

I thought Winter Soldier was a better movie, TBH. And the best movie I’ve seen this year so far? The Grand Budapest Hotel. (And I have heard wonderful things about Boyhood…and you know how much I loved the Before trilogy!)

But I digress. The real reason for this post is to share with you a cute crossover I discovered online: one of my all-time favorite books, The Giving Tree, with Groot and Rocket as the main characters!

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As The Nerdist states, The Giving Groot needs to be a real book! 

Aug 7, 2014  •  In Personal, Travel

High Expectations [The Perils of an Overactive Imagination]

I have never liked going to “tourist-y” attractions when traveling.

I know this is the cool thing to do these days — to seek out the less popular, hidden gems when vacationing — but I have always been like this, even from a young age.

And the reason for this aversion? Disappointment.

The Mona Lisa. The Eiffel Tower. The Sistine Chapel. Starry Night. The Parthenon. The Pantheon. The Colosseum. The Statue of Liberty. Notre Dame Cathedral. The Blue Domed Church in Santorini. The Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Last Supper. Saint Peter’s Basilica. Capitol Hill. The Louvre. The Palace of Versailles. Niagara Falls. The Grand Canyon. The Trevi Fountain. The Statue of David.

And so on and so forth.

Never have I been impressed and/or surprised by visiting these famous landmarks, works of art, or structures in person. Because in my mind — fueled by my love of reading and colorful imagination — they were always so much better. More grandiose, more colorful, more intricate, more impressive

In other words, I expected more.

disappointment

I couldn’t help but be reminded of this personality quirk (flaw?) when I read “Lowering Expectations Is Key to Happiness” earlier this week. According to the article, researchers at the University College London discovered that feeling happy does not depend on how things are going, but how they are going relative to expectations.

Which completely makes sense, when you think about it!

Perhaps this is why I tend to stray more to the negative side of spectrum when it comes to general life satisfaction? Because I imagine, and thus expect, all aspects of my life — whether it be relationships, parenting, career — to be better?

It’s funny, because my overactive imagination doesn’t automatically turn to the worst-case scenario. Rather, I tend to conjure up elaborate, more-than-ideal situations and outcomes. So perhaps I will continue to be disappointed more than pleased…but stay an optimist.

Aug 5, 2014  •  In Entertainment, Geek, Movies, Science, Star Wars

The Science of Star Wars

Physicist Andy Howell recently gave a talk about the science of Star Wars — yes, the actual science behind, the inspiration for, the data that supports, and the ‘how’s and ‘why’s behind the wonders of the SW world! — and wrote up a summary for Ain’t It Cool.

This is so nerdy that I couldn’t help but stay up ’til 2am, devouring the details.  8-)  

The topics include:

  • Space Fantasy
  • Droids
  • Tattoine
  • Holograms
  • Parsecs
  • Lightsabers
  • TIE Fighters
  • Training Remotes
  • The Death Star
  • The Destruction of Alderaan

For example, did you know that training remotes (the floating robotic orb Luke uses to practice his lightsaber skills) are a reality? And that they’re flying on a spaceship right now???!!!!!

In 1999, MIT professor David Miller showed his students STAR WARS, and when it got to the part about the training remotes, he said, “I want you to build me some of those.” They and subsequent researchers came up with these things called SPHERES that are being tested on the International Space Station. They float because it is weightless on the ISS. And then they maintain their position and move around by shooting jets of compressed air!

Then there’s this jaw-dropper:

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And you can read the calculations behind the statement at the end of the article!

I think it goes without saying that Copernicus explores The Science of Star Wars! is a must-read for all Star Wars geeks. Go bookmark it now!!!

Via Kottke.