Wednesday, August 29, 2007

travel lust

A friend recently told me I had "travel lust". Wanderlust I'm familiar with, but travel lust? Is there a difference? For some reason a recoiled a little when she said this, as if travel lust implies a restlessness that wanderlust, with its air of Pico Iyer-style intensity, does not. But then I thought a little about the previous week's vacation in Tofino, British Columbia (photo) and my upcoming three weeks in Europe. September is going to be packed with book-research excursions, but still, my friend is probably right no matter what. Certainly I wouldn't be so driven to go places for my writing if I didn't like the travel.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

cartooning and middle sister

A funny link, courtesy of Tech Drool's Caffeine Pete, of comics drawn by a righty sketching with the left hand.

And I've been meaning to post a few pictures from our recent hike up middle sister in central Oregon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

holiday season

Gotta love August 13: International Left-Handers Day. I was a guest on a Michigan radio show with a host who was eager to celebrate the occasion. It seems that left-handed talk-show hosts, sooner or later, come to notice their handedness and figure that this subject might make for an interesting discussion.

The word from Banda Aceh is that August 17 is Indonesia's Independence Day. And rounding out the week, August 15 is my parents' anniversary. As for me, book research is in full swing, and I'm also busy writing about this startup, Rogue River rafting, ocean wave energy, and (from next week) Tofino, British Columbia.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

brains on the mind

These fMRI images reflect what's happening in the brain when people perform simple imitation tasks with the left or right hand. (Doesn't the bottom-left image look a bit like two hands held together in the shape of a bowl, as if trying to cup a few precious sips of water?) So far, the researchers have analyzed about a dozen subjects, all right-handers. I stopped into their lab two weeks ago and was the first lefty in the experiment. No data yet, but the idea is to see how activation might differ for lefties, one hypothesis being that it will be more symmetrical. The group is based at Harvard and Tom Zeffiro was extremely generous with his time. A southpaw as well, Zeffiro is equally perplexed by the mystery of left-handedness. Paraphrasing something he told me: If mostly left-hemispheric lateralization for language and a mostly right-handed population are unrelated phenomena, that could be one of the greatest coincidences in all of neuroscience.

Meanwhile, this BBC story describes a gene that may play a part in handedness, or in increasing the likelihood of left-handedness. I'm not sure what to make of it just yet, but one thing is certain: the British infatuation with the subject of handedness never ceases to amaze me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

the honorable journalist

I just learned that the collection of Bill Woo's weekly letters to students is now available from the University of Missouri Press: Letters From the Editor: Lessons on Journalism and Life. Woo was my mentor during my year in graduate school, and anyone with an interest in clear writing, the role of the media in society, and journalism ethics would be wise to read this book.