One of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes comics features the following poem, originally printed in 1987:
These new stockings were created for some friends, with two spares for future members of their growing family. The tags with initials are interchangeable, so they can switch them every year if they want to, or they can assign them once and keep them that way forever.
This true story is about you.
You were the young man with the death metal t-shirt and the warm heart who wanted his name to be "Carnage." Some were worried about what kind of a role model you would be to younger children, but Roots saw past the shirt, reached out her hand and re-named you "Venom." Over the next three years you had a reason to stay in school, a reason to pass your classes. Each season you had a new group of boys to connect with, dote on, and be a role model for. They needed you, maybe as much as you needed them.
Above text from introduction by Dan Prince
Paperback available at Powell's
Kindle version available from Amazon
But the essence of life is not so much the atoms and simple molecules that make us up as the way in which they are put together. Every now and then we read that the chemicals which constitute the human body cost ninety-seven cents or ten dollars or some such figure; it is a little depressing to find our bodies valued so little.
However, these estimates are for human beings reduced to our simplest possible components. We are made mostly of water, which costs almost nothing; the carbon is costed in the form of coal; the calcium in our bones as chalk; the nitrogen in our proteins as air (cheap also); the iron in our blood as rusty nails.
If we did not know better, we might be tempted to take all the atoms that make us up, mix them together in a big container and stir. We can do this as much as we want. But in the end all we have is a tedious mixture of atoms. How could we have expected anything else?
Harold Morowitz has calculated what it would cost to put together the correct molecular constituents that make up a human being by buying the molecules from chemical supply houses. The answer turns out to be about ten million dollars, which should make us all feel a little better.
But even then we could not mix those chemicals together and have a human being emerge from the jar. That is far beyond our capability and will probably be so for a very long period of time.
Fortunately, there are other less expensive but still highly reliable methods of making human beings.
Text from Cosmos by Carl Sagan
A quick Christmas craft for my friends' stockings. I found book cover images (front, back, and spine wherever possible) and printed them onto card stock, then glued them onto tiny sticky note pads. Unfortunately, using the sticky notes later doesn't really work, but they're meant to be Christmas ornaments so it doesn't matter.
Choosing which books to make was easy for friends who have GoodReads accounts. I simply sorted their shelves by their own ratings, and made ornaments of their 5-star favorites.
The Harry Potter books, of course, have wonderful covers that wrap all the way around.
For friends without GoodReads accounts, I had to work a little harder to choose appropriate books. For some I had to remember books that had been brought up in conversation in the past, and for others, I had to guess based on personality. Luckily I ended up guessing correctly most of the time.
I have to admit, all those little books hanging on the tree at our Christmas party were pretty cute. I might just have to make some for myself. I think I have a few more sticky notes around here somewhere...