Monday, April 16, 2007

Insatiably Curious

Those of you who know me well, know how inquisitive I am. Those of you who have met me here may have noticed that same trait. For more than a year now I’ve been involved in another on-line community. There interactions with different people from that community have brought a wide range of friends and knowledge into my life. Fascinating friends. Friends from all over the world. Literally. This dynamic interaction, with little crumbs of information via their journals and comments piqued my curiosity about their jobs and hobbies. One night, through serendipity, a conversation began on "drug farming" with an Analytical Chemist . It's his job to determine the structure and purity of chemical and drug compounds. Another chemist then joined in and talked about his experiences in the natural lab; from photosynthesis to photosynthesis. We had a discussion about folding polypeptides and rendering the molecular structures of garam masala (an Indian spice). Naturally this led us from chemistry to gourmet cooking. Next thing I knew, I learned the macro structure of bread. Did you know it is made of protein and carbohydrate polymers held together with hydrogen bonding at static interference? Me neither. But I did know it's all puffed up by yeast waste. Then we leaped onto the Tree Frog poison epibatidine; and how nicotine neuroreceptors (instead of the usual catecholamine neural paths) act as an intensely powerful painkiller. Quite a group had gathered at this point and we discovered the study of Tree Frog poison has led to searches for analogous, less toxic drugs which in turn have led to a few proposed ones being in trials for the last 10 years or so. This brought up Benzene rings! One of the participants explained that they are a basic structure, common in many molecules, of 6 carbon atoms in a hexagon, each with a hydrogen. A simple example is Naphthalene, which is two benzene rings side by side. As if we hadn’t ranged far enough, a “Jell-O Artist” got involved in the mix and the next thing I knew we (okay, really THEY) were discussing Jell-O fractals and engineer fractals by shaking (or some other way of disturbing) Jell-O to spontaneously form the the fractals (or some other structure). And these conversations were all percolating in one conversation over a 2 hour time period. The next night, the conversation self-combusted again. It got me to thinking. These people were willing to talk about their knowledge and share it, someone just needed to ask the right questions and give the discussion a starting point and direction. The whole evening reminded me of the French Salons that were so popular in the 20-40’s in Paris. So I’ve decided to design a weekly salon at the virtual Chez MitMoi. I'll pick the individuals and ask them some questions in advance. Then the night of the salon I'll post the questions and their responses to get the conversation started. It was choosing the people and the topics that made me distracted enough to walk out of my house with my cordless phone last week! Listed below are the topics and questions I chose. So far I’ve received back 4 of the topics. Tomorrow night I will be the posting of the responses from BlueWingTeal on Photography. I am so excited about this!! I will post the topics and the "guest lecturer's" responses here. If anything interesting happens in the comments section, I'll also try and add them in to the post. Wish me luck on this endeavor!
Topics for the 2007 Le Salon de MitMoi
The Licorice Plant, Healing and Drinking: Aya – Please tell us one common use in Middle Eastern healing of the Licorice plant. Why does it work? Describe the biological components of this plant (as if you were talking to a kindergartner (or me) Frreenie – Why did you decide to use it as a flavoring in beer. Why do you think it works. Talk about what type of licorice and when you include it in the brewing process. Erdos0 – Define the two different types of licorice, (if there are visible differences in the two plants, can you supply me with two graphics?). Give one of the most interesting Asian healing uses for this plant. How do you source your supply? Beer Brewing Frreenie – Why/when did you brew your first batch of beer? What is your favorite style of beer? Can you provide a list the major categories of beer and the distinctions between them? Give me some history on the resurgence of the American micro-brew. Food and beer pairings – what do you look for – how do you memorize flavors and know what’s going to go with what? Would you/could you discuss the correlation between pure water for brewing vs water quality in our watershed? (or is this too revealing of your profession and you’d like to keep this under wraps?) Photography Blue – when did you first start taking pictures. How difficult was the move from film to digital. How did you acquire the “eye”? What is your favorite image (that you’ve taken)? How does your photographers eye influence your design esthetic? Black and White vs Color. Different/same? Easier/More exacting? Better technique vs more emotional? Why style of photography do you admire most? Name one historically prominent photographer you admire. Name on “hot” new photography who’s work your excited to see develop. Guitars Mister Guitar – what was your first electrical guitar? How did you acquire it? What guitar is your favorite in you collection right now? Explain to me how an electrical vs acoustic guitar works. What guitar do you lust after. Where does playing take you too? (I’m assuming you get “lost” in your music … talk to me about this. Only when you improvise? Any part of a favorite song?) What does playing feel like to you. (describe the sensation). Bass vs Lead guitar – what’s the difference? Philosophy SovalDeus - When did you first fall in love with Philosophy? Why have you chose Business over Philosophy for your profession concentration at college? Where do the two intersect? Can you concisely outline the major arch of Philosophy? (You need to be very, very, general and brief.) Which philosopher takes your breath away and why? Are there any current day philosophers who intrigue you? Jell-o Art! McWho - What is your artistic background? Painting (oil/acrylic/watercolor), sculpture? When did you see your first jell-o piece? When did you try your first installation? What does the creativity of jell-o provide that you’ve never experienced in your other mediums? How do you develop an idea for an installation? Is it always a straight ahead design process or are their 101 modifications and variations along the way? Do you ever change direction completely in your work? Bio/Pharmacological Imaging Aya – tell me, what is Object Oriented Biotech? How does biology fortify/inform your religious beliefs? When did you first recognize art was appearing in the graphic design of chemical structures? Did your background from your father (artistic) make this an inevitable link? Did it happen at the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley school? What was your first experience with CADD? Did you ever think CADD systems would develop to the point they are at now? (Please keep this discussion very basic … so someone like me – who knows ALMOST nothing can follow along) Dyslexia and science Aaron Dock – When did you/your family first learn you were dyslexic? What does dyslexia add to your life? (ie: what things to you routinely discover/observe that others don’t see because of the way your mind processes information?) Were you surprised to pursue a science career with dyslexia? (maybe this is a stupid question – here’s why I’m asking it.) I could never pursue geology (a love of mine) very far because of the math requirements and because I can’t make numbers “stick”. I think (just from what you’ve said) your dyslexia is more observable when it comes to spelling – and writing and word order. So does that mean numbers “behave” for you and are dependable and easy? And letters are nonsensical and quixotic? What coping mechanisms/tricks/tools have you developed? (Like I once had a job where I did inventory control in college. Everything over $500. had a numeric sticker on it. I had to match the code on the sticker with the number on the list (can you say job from HELL?). But I learned that if I looked at the tag on the equipment with a mirror I didn’t scramble the order so much. Also I copy numbers down from right to left, if their order is really important so I don’t transpose them.) Linguistics D_Vorsay and SmirkySmurf– did you always love words? When did you realize there was a complete segment of study associated with words? Why technology and now teaching instead of linguist? How has your love for language effected your programming skills? How do you think it will aid your teaching aspirations? Do you link language and math? How? Does it frustrate you that others don’t see the beauty of language? Or that they don’t follow the rules? Do you always assume it’s because they don’t care? (ie: lazy) or is it education? (lack thereof), or intelligence? What are your favorite types of words? (sounds/structures) Why? Which words frustrate you the most? (maybe none do?) Give us two of your favorite phrases – their origin – and they “common myth” about their meaning. Food Cheffy – what was your earliest cooking experience? What is your ‘philosophy’ about cooking. (ie: local/natural, disparate flavor combos, “stacking” (please tell me this IS NOT you! (Remember in the mid-80’s when everything was about how high you could stack?), regional, ethnic, texture, “raw food”?) What area of cuisine is easiest for you/ do you enjoy the most? (baking/pasties, appetizers, creating dishes, tweaking traditional cuisine, pricing/sourcing, sommelier). What’s a perfect cooking experience for you? Why don’t you and your friends spend all your off time cooking and feeding each other? What culinary trend makes you want to throw up? What do you think about celebrity chefs? Do you watch cooking shows? What parts piss you off when you watch them? What is you culinary dream? What’s the worst cooking experience you ever had to endure? Designing Toys Deedlebomb – when did you first know there was more to toys than playing with them? Did you “re-invent” your toys as a child? When did you first learn this could be a career field? What is your educational background? What style of toy is your personal favorite to play with? What style of toy do you/did you work with? How collaborative/individualistic is the process? Do people treat you differently when they learn what you do/did for a living? The effects of Military Service, Voluntarily Participation vs National Compulsory Conscription There are three people I've become acquainted with who have/are serving in the military. One is a young woman from Israel, and the other are two young men here in the US. T_Golin, How do you think this compulsory service effects your nation, Israel? Does it strengthen it? (Because everyone has served, so you all have something in common?) Does it weaken your nation? (Post service mental, emotional, and physical traumas) Over all, if you were to speculate, do most people support this requirement of the government? What do you think about a volunteer army, like the US has? Instant-Gravity, Why did you chose to enter the military? Did you realize your aspirations? Now that you have hindsight, would you make the same choice? What do you think about nations that have compulsory service requirements? Jcl - Why did you chose to enter the military? Did you realize your aspirations? Putting aside the politics of why you’re being called to serve again, what do you think about this strategy? Is it good because the people going over the second time have more experience? Is it bad, because it’s demoralizing to face the … I don’t know what word to use, help me. Is it hard because you KNOW what you’ll be facing and you thought it was behind you? Because you don’t want to have to gear up to that mindset again? Because you feel like you’re barely hanging on now? So what about you? Are you excited to see this project take off?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who did you say your are ? Were you raised in an intellectual family with deep discussions every evening ?

Mit_Moi said...

Anonymous: I don't know if my family would qualify as "intellectuals" ... but most of our dinner table conversations, trips, and interaction with other people usually center on, "How does that work?", "Why does this happen?", "What's that made up of?", "Where did you learn this?" and another 100 questions.

Being with the Mitter family means to question. Some might call it "nosy", we just don't. We're just more interested in how to build the watch, than what time it is! :)