Relaxing on the Edge

hammockLast month, we got to spend a day at Binnacle Island in the St. Lawrence River. It’s a tiny dot of land owned by the US Power Squadron, and members can dock there overnight at any time and reserve it for longer stays. There’s a house, a deck with cookout equipment, indoor plumbing, and docks with power outlets. And this inviting hammock. I didn’t actually get into it; the last time I tried to use a hammock I discovered myself to be deeply hammock-impaired, unable to get in or out gracefully, and I was afraid to try this one. It was, after all, right on the edge of the island. Rolling out on the wrong side would be painful, then wet. But I didn’t resist taking a photo.

Posted in response to the WordPress Photo Challenge: Edge.


The Zombie Hand: Fact and Fiction Intersect


I just read a scientific text that straddles the boundary between neurology and philosophy, and found fascinating resonances with my favorite zombie story. Both books explore the nature of the self. How do I know what is me and what is not-me? It’s not as simple as it seems. Continue reading

Three Worlds of my Own


This is my version of a famous lithograph by M. C. Escher called Three Worlds.  His print depicts a still pool in which you can see a fish below the water, leaves scattered on top of the water, and the reflection of trees in the distance: the three worlds of above, below, and on the surface. My photo, which I took just last week, is deliberately overexposed to show the same effect. You can see the reflection of a boat and some trees above the water; the duck, scattered grass, and ripples on the surface; and the weeds growing under the water. Three domains in one image.

The water surface is the equivalent of a half-silvered mirror, which reflects part of the light that hits it and lets some of the light pass through. This is how one-way mirrors work that you see all the time in the interrogation rooms in crime shows. In the brightly-lit room where the suspect is, some of the light is reflected so that it looks like a mirror, and some of the light is passed through to the other side so the observers can see what’s going on. Some of the light from the observers’ side also passes through to the interrogation room, but it’s really dark in there so there’s very little light to begin with and what gets through isn’t noticed. (On TV the observers’ room is usually much too bright because the cameras need a lot of light. If it were that bright in real life, the suspects would see the observers through the mirror.) Normal windows have the same property to a lesser extent, which is why in the daytime you see the world outside but at night you just see your room reflected back at you.

Posted in response to the WordPress photo challenge: Mirror