Saturday, December 22, 2007

A good reason not to be an ancient Greek

I'm still working my way through that translation of the Iliad. Today I got to the funeral for Patroclus. Pretty much it struck me as a nasty tradition, and one just as well not adhered to these days.

Achilles, Patroclus' best friend, sponsored the funeral. There were sacrifices: sacrifices of a dozen noble Trojan youths, in retribution for Patroclus' death, and then there were sacrifices of bulls and pigs for the giant feast. There were games, with prizes. First prize was--I don't know, a bowl or something valued at twelve oxen, and second prize was a woman skilled at women's work, valued at four oxen. Then there was the chariot race itself. Apollo cheated and helped one contestant, but Athena saw and tripped him up and helped someone else win. The decision at the end of the race didn't so much take into account who won as a number of other factors, like the contestants' rank, how good their horses and usual driving were, and the interference of the gods.

The number of problems with this whole scenario almost boggles the mind.

Also today I was reading The Daring Book for Girls, which is a sister book to The Dangerous Book for Boys. The girls' edition was rather a disappointment, in a way. Dangerous really reached an essential part of boy-ness, with its delightful mix of adventure and knowledge. One feels that if a boy really absorbed everything in that, he'd be well on his way to being a good, dangerous man. Daring, while it had a fair amount of interesting content (including the letters of Abigail Adams!), overall wasn't very feminine. The entire premise appeared to be a feminist "anything boys can do, girls can do better and should be allowed to," which is rather different. If a girl absorbed everything in that, she'd be...a wannabe boy. They left so much girl-ness out.

Don't get me wrong. I have no objections to canoes, or tying knots, or the daring exploits of ancient queens and modern female scientists and Olympic champions. I adore world travel and really great espionage. When they pointed out that in ancient times, the prizes for the men's Olympic games were, in fact, women, I acknowledged the justice of the charge. (Homer, I trust you now know that was a problem.) It's just, ironically, in their zeal to prevent girls from being "only" a girl, the authors almost prevent them from being girls at all, in the sense of being different from boys.

Girls need to become more themselves, to do activities more pleasing and suitable to who they are, and not just take chapters out of the boys' book. It reminded me of Enchanted, where the daddy kept buying his little girl books about strong women, but she just wanted to read about princesses. It would never do for the daddy to be a sweet princess, but it was excellent for the princess to be one. It also wouldn't do for her to turn into a hard lawyer, but it made him awesome. And in the happy ending, they married, remained their delightful selves, and she ran a very successful business--sewing princess-style party dresses. And the New York lady went to the kingdom and probably did a splendid job helping her prince run his kingdom, because he didn't have a lick of common sense and she did. That's the kind of thing I'm thinking about. I want a broader vision for femininity than Daring had.

I can't think of any philosophy that leaves room for boys to be boys and for girls to be girls besides Christianity. (Fairy tales demand a Christian worldview and asphyxiate in any other: but that's a blog post for another day.) God considers every human precious, for we are made in His image and for His glory, and He loves us, and we ought to consider one another precious. It's not a power struggle any more. We don't have to be perennially terrified that someone might take advantage of us, and even authority of one person over another turns out to be okay, under God. The genuine gender differences become good things, and in another sense irrelevant, given our equal status as members of the Body of Christ. Should the ear get jealous of the eye, or say it's not needed because it's not an eye? Of course not. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? But we are all members of Christ, who is all, and in all.

None of the ancient religions can say this. If there's no god, your importance is what you make it. If there are many gods, your importance depends on how much you can make the gods like you, and by all accounts they're not very reliable. They bicker like four-year-olds.

So I was vaguely disturbed to see paganism alive and well at the museum gift shop this afternoon. They were selling little silver acorns, in remembrance of the Norse oak tree symbolizing life. Why would people want to bring back the gods? They weren't nice to people. They were into terror, and human sacrifice, and using women, and foulness of all kinds.

All this today--the ancient poet and the modern feminists and the revamped pagans--made me appreciate again my religion. :-) Christianity is so much better than any alternative. I'm so glad it's Christmas and that Jesus came to earth, and became a human, and our high priest and our entirely-good-enough sacrifice and our lawyer before God. That's something to be merry about.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wolfram, Wulfric, and Murgatroyd

The good doctor asked me this morning if I knew the chemical symbol for tungsten. Not offhand, I had to admit, though I'd probably seen it at some point. Well, it's "W." Had I heard this story before? Why, no, I hadn't.

Tungsten's symbol is "W" because its old name was "wolfram." It was so named by alchemists, back in the day. They had discovered that if you added chromium and whatnot to iron, you got this lovely lively springy steel--but if you added even a bit of tungsten, it would become very brittle. It sucked the life right out of steel, just like a werewolf sucked the life out of people. Hence the name "wolfram."

He told me this story because of our poor local dragon. I've been on a dragon-drawing kick, as you know, but was utterly unsuccessful at convincing Amelia to draw them with me. No; she went home and sculpted one, and brought it back to keep watch over our front desk. We named him Wulfric, and as I was discussing with a young patient of ours, he was definitely not a Hungarian Horntail, nor a Norwegian Ridgeback, nor even a Welsh Green, due to a preponderance of red and gold about his person. We eventually classed him as a Welsh Red.

Wulfric put the good doctor in mind of wolfram, because he shares certain of its qualities. He's a rather brittle dragon. I was holding him on my shoulder when he tumbled off and broke both his ears. Amelia took him home for repairs, and he has not yet resumed his duties.

Murgatroyd is neither a metal nor a dragon. Murgatroyd is our new piece of office equipment. It's got a monitor like a head, and a long pole, and a basket for a brisket, and a lovely splay-footed rolley base. I'm actually not sure what Murgatroyd does, but I get the impression he monitors vital signs or something. He's quite personable, just like a Pixar creature, and therefore needed a name. So far we really do refer to him as "Murgatroyd," which is a good sign.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Quote of the day

"Cookies! Cookies!" --the good doctor

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Quote of the day

"Heidegger is always appropriate." Bales

Friday, December 14, 2007

And cats just love bonnets

The long-awaited day came at last: the day Lilly got her sutures out. The vet was reasonably happy with how she's healing, but was concerned by the sores where she's been licking above the bandage. So she kindly supplied me with bitter stuff to rub on the wound, and also with a large blue bonnet for the cat.

She hasn't quite got the hang of it, and every single corner she goes around, she gets the bonnet hung on. Step--step--STOP. Shake head, try again. Poor Lilly.

We tried to convince her that it matched her eyes, but she's having none of it. You can tell by the tail. The bonnet is driving her to profanity. In fact, upon returning home from the vet, she said, "It's just one d--- thing after another!" And her comments got less quotable from there.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The most important reason to have a tip jar

This morning a patient tried to tell us we could put a tip jar on the counter. Lisa and I looked at each other and were like, no. That would be so tacky.

After he left, another patient from the waiting room brought up the subject. "But he forgot the most important reason to have a tip jar. I saw it on CNN last night."


"You can use it to beat off robbers. This guy in a 7-11 did that--he said he was afraid of how he'd look on YouTube if he didn't do anything."

You can be heroic for love of family, for patriotism, for conscience's sake, or from fear of YouTube. That works...I guess...

Update: About an hour later, a patient looked at his credit card receipt. "No place to write in the tip," he said.

"Did you hear the conversation earlier??" we demanded. He claimed he hadn't. But he offered to bring us a tip jar.

To which I, with great eloquence, wailed: "Nooooooooooooo!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Come on, it's lovely weather

"Cool!" I thought, as I left the house this morning. The driveway and my car windows were clear (thank you, Daddy!), but everything else was frosted with heavy day-old snow and a shimmer of brand-fresh snow. The wind was quite still and a thick fog obscured even the other side of the street.

So I was driving along through the fog, thinking pleasant foggy thoughts and being grateful I wasn't in Albuquerque because they had several wrecks this morning, when something golden started gleaming up ahead. What's this? It grew brighter, and pinker, and golder--

--and I popped out of the fog and right into the most gorgeous morning ever to be seen in Northern New Mexico.

An apricot sunrise lit up shreds of low-hanging clouds, and bright orange cliff-faces, and six inches of snow on pines that came straight out of a Christmas play. The roads were perfectly clear and dry, and everything else was just like a picture-print from Currier and Ives. Even the "Lane ends, merge left" signs took on the appearance of big ornaments for the occasion.

God loves us, that's all there is to it. These wonderful things are the things we'll remember all through our lives. :-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


How the Grinch Stole Back Christmas.

I especially like the bit about St. Nicholas punching out Arius. I don't approve, certainly not, but Arius really was asking for it. Does anybody know of a source for that delightful story? :-)

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

Patience is a virtue

My beautiful Lilly-cat had some surgery on her front leg last week. It wasn't too big a deal (we hope), just getting a tumor removed, but naturally it required stitches. Lilly wouldn't leave the stitches alone, and as we couldn't very well let her tear them out with her teeth, we had to cover the wound with gauze.

Tonight I noticed the skin above the gauze is all raw where she's been trying to gnaw it off, and every once in a while she'll let out the most pitiful meow. When I rewrapped it this evening, I made it cover the raw patch. So all her efforts have done is make the bandage larger. It's such a shame: if she'd leave it alone, she wouldn't need one at all.

But just now she's sitting on my lap purring. All she needs is love--and sometimes a little thin-sliced deli meat.

I know why Lilly and I get on so well. We're a lot alike. Mostly I'm pretty happy if my people are with me and happy with me, and send little goodies my way, but if God should happen to want something irritating for me, suddenly I'm not nearly so pleasant. TAKE this gauze off, Sir! And these stitches, what do I need them for? Rip--rip--rip--and then I wonder why there's blood all over the rug.

It's quite amazing what some trust and patience will do. God actually does know what's good for me better than I know it myself. And patience is apparently a virtue for a reason--go figure. :-)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

On a winter's day

I ventured out today for my noontime walk. High, thin clouds covered the sky like a milk-glaze, thick enough to mute the shadows but not so thick as to obscure them completely. A stiff breeze make me appreciate my jacket. Pine needles sprinkled the sidewalk, possibly from last night's rain, and green moss and green grass stood out in shocking contrast from the ground's winter-dull beige. It takes so little moisture to make New Mexico green, even in December.

My office-plants are still surviving. The infusion of coffee grounds into the palm tree pot hasn't made it darker green, but it seems relatively happy in its paleness, sprouting new branches and all. Maybe it likes the diffused sunbeams that come through our window. I do; that's one of the biggest advantages of winter in this office. In summer, the suns's angle is too high to reach under the eaves.

I finally made it up the hill to Starbucks, where an old homeschooling buddy was kind enough to make me a cinnamon dolce mocha with whipped cream on top--or, in other words, a fancy hot chocolate. :-) It was (naturally) expensive, but the good cheer made a welcome contrast to the chilly outdoors and equally chilly fellow walkers outdoors. One of them was moving fast, eyes down, earphone firmly plugged into his ear. I didn't say hi as he passed; he pr'y couldn't have heard me anyway. Personally, a favorite part of walking over lunch is that I don't have music going, but rather get to hear birds (when they're in season) and traffic and trees rustling and whatever else is making noise.

We've been experimenting with XM radio stations lately. The goal is that perfect mix of Christmas music that dental professionals and patients alike can enjoy. I discovered there is one station that plays a lot of Celtic music, and I've been hunting for that for a while, and learned that the XM station namers call it folk. So that was fun. But they weren't playing Christmas music, exactly, and also Loreena McKennit's bagpipes got annoying. So we switched to--I don't know--nineties pop, for some inexplicable reason, and we changed that after they played Elton John, on the grounds it was uncivilized. Usually we dwell with the classical station. They definitely get into the Christmas spirit. But their downside is that the random sopranos also get into the Christmas spirit, or maybe some other kind of spirit, and one can only handle so much random-soprano-hood. Any nonmelodious wailing required in the office, I can supply quite happily, thank you.

The walk back got colder. I was headed into the wind, so I buttoned up and clung to my mocha. As days go, it really wasn't very nice, but as a specimen of weather it was fascinating. The breeze, the clouds, the sunbeams falling between trees where sunbeams really shouldn't have existed at all, judging from the color of the sky--yes, it was a good day for a walk.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

In praise of Latin for politicians

Hear, hear. In the New York Times, no less.

Hat tip: Firinnteine.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Vaguely horrifying

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

Let's see. INTP is introverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving. And I do believe this is the second time I've come up as Lord Voldemort--and on two different quizzes, too.

There's only one quote appropriate for the occasion: "She had not yet decided whether to use her power for good or for evil."

Monday, December 03, 2007

On thriving cliches

I am somewhat puzzled by the apparent inability of those promoting "modern-English translations" to discern a cliche in its native habitat and exterminate it.

The Message Bible aims at readability, but my experience with it (admittedly brief) has been that of cliches strung together, like beads. To do it justice, The Message tells you straight out it's a paraphrase.

Also right now, I'm reading the Iliad, translated by W.H.D. Rouse, which the back cover says is "colloquial as Homer was colloquial, never pedantic, high-flown or cliche-ridden." It seems to me the colloquialisms wander dangerously close to cliche-land on pretty much every page.

"...and he took a header off the wall."

"...away went the Trojans higgledy-piggledy."

"They were in three ranks, all dead tired and asleep..."

"I can't praise you enough, this is a feather in your cap! How did you get those horses? ....Like the shining sun, I do declare! I am always about in the battle, and I don't bide in the rear, old as I am; but I have never set eyes on any horses like these."

It's a pretty readable translation, if you can tolerate the worn-out phrases, but...surely modern English has more to offer than that? If not, maybe it's time to retire modern English and go with something better.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quote of the day

"Hard to believe it's the 29th already." Me
"Time flies when you're having Thanksgiving." Patient
"That's what it is! I guess it's better than turkeys flying. Reminds me of the poem that starts out, 'The turkey flew out of the oven,' and ends, 'That's the last time I stuff a turkey with popcorn that hasn't been popped.'" Me
"That would be a noble undertaking. ...Have a good Christmas, now. Watch out for flying turkeys." Patient

Another reason to be grateful for being incarnate

One of the advantages of life happening in local places (as opposed to In General) is that you get local eateries like Chili Works and El Parasol, that make the most incomparably wonderful breakfast burritos and tacos (respectively).

But the trouble with this model is that if one were to move to DC or Kenya or somewhere, it would become difficult to obtain said incomparable burritos and tacos. The Facebook group for Chili Works is full of people from elsewhere bemoaning that very problem. I guess you just have to learn to love the local eateries in the new places, but this parting is a grievous effect of being embodied and therefore only in one place at a time. [Here it would be fun to go off on the amazingness of the doctrine of the Incarnation.]

On the other hand, if one were disembodied and everywhere, one wouldn't have quite the same interest in breakfast burritos and tacos. Either that, or you'd be like a pirate on the Black Pearl, and that wouldn't be nice either.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dragonish thoughts

Last night I was inspired. I was going to paint a DRAGON! I had it all visualized. Then I started sketching and discovered I didn't know how to draw a dragon. Put a crimp in that plan, I can tell you.

So this morning I thought unto myself, "The internet knows everything. Surely it can teach me this skill." I searched a bit, and came up with this link, and sure enough, dragons started proliferating on my scratch paper in amongst the prescriptions and cell numbers.

So I here I append, not my first dragon, but my first dragon made in Paint. If you look at it and say, "You still can't draw a dragon!" I would first plead the difficulty of drawing with a mouse, and second--just imagine how bad it must have been before I found the link. :-)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Minnie Pearl

"Do you know who Minnie Pearl is?"

I admitted to the patient that I did. "Why?" I inquired, suspiciously.

It transpired that he had recently bought a pearl-white minivan, and ordered the correspondent vanity plate. I thought that was pretty clever. But the plate (he demonstrated) hadn't come back as Minnie Pearl. No; in the depths of the plate manufacturing plant, it had been transmuted into... ninny pearl.

He was just off to the DMV to complain.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nice Monday

Christmas came early to my office.

I arrived this morning (and a blue, frosty, snowy morning it was) to find evergreen wreaths and garland and potted poinsettias all over. Becca had two paper snowflakes for me to put up, with the sticky note "Snowflakes for C--'cause it's after Thanksgiving. =)." Christmas music poured from the XM radio. A tiny space heater was aimed at my usual chair, spurting hot air most effectively, and on top of it all, the fridge had two fresh tins of COFFEE--special roast, special label.

Snow outside, and Christmassy comforts in--isn't that a nice way to start a Monday?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Great moments in teaching

Today we did maps of the Middle East and environs. One of my boys announced,

"I HATE biology!"

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving doings

Well! I like Thanksgiving break; mine so far has been quite eventful. I've gone dancing and ice skating and learned to dirt bike; I've seen "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" and read nine books of the Iliad; we had Thanksgiving dinner with my aunt and uncle's family, and had a different turkey and sweet potatoes but the same stuffing at our house; I've written a children's story, a skit, and several emails. We all went to a birthday party and Dad won a Slinky for recognizing theme songs and I won a Frisbee for hula hooping. We admired the tar-paper on the church roof (Thank you SO MUCH, C's and Limbacks), had six inches of snow, and were grateful the tar-paper was up before the snow. We went out for coffee twice. I've practiced guitar, I've typed up recipes, and we've talked to tons of people we haven't seen for ages.

Furthermore, we've decorated our house for Christmas, listened to hours of Christmas music, and determined that if anyone's pearl necklace went missing, the first place we'd look would be in amongst the mistletoe berries.

The quote of the week is definitely, "Ooh! It's shiny!" from "Meet the Robinsons." Though that status is closely followed by my mother's pronouncement, "College corrupts, and absolutely college corrupts absolutely."

This definitely calls for a good night's sleep. :-) How were y'all's holidays?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sestina in a Time of War

This morning may be early, but the doctor
Arrived here earlier still. Up blinds, on coffee,
And while I wait a civilized hour to call,
I menace the staff with a rubber band
Inaccurately. The good doctor claims
This cheers him up, which makes more fun than sense.

My newer potted plant assents
To the goodness of the day. The doctor
Knew it was a schefflera; it claims
Its name and place by sprouting leaflets. Coffee
Steams beside an idle rubber band,
A still life to a soundtrack of rehearsed calls.

The details vary, but I make a call
With a punchline much the same. “Since
You made this appointment” (note a rubber band
Being loaded by the doctor),
“Will you come?” I cover my coffee;
“Yes,” he says, as it lands, and “Great!” I proclaim.

“Yes,” I tell the patient, “I’ll send your claim
Today; it takes about two weeks. Please call
Me if you don’t hear back in a month.” My coffee
Has grown cold. “Eighty-three and no cents
For today.” He jokes, “No sense, eh?” The doctor
Laughs. I say, “No sense at all,” and hide the rubber band.

The patient safely gone, the rubber band
Comes out. I grin and claim
He’ll never hit me; the doctor
Gets in a rather nice shot. I take a call
And zing him back, and we rescind
All mockery. Ha! I promptly I spill my coffee.

Nothing keeps you mortal like cold coffee.
Paper towels mop off the soggy rubber band
And I blink demurely as a well-sent
Loop hits my ear. Again the phone claims
My attention, as a teary call
Asks to talk to the good doctor.

The doctor turns toward his call
And I aim my rubber band. Peace, you claim,
But this shot looks perfect. The scent wafts up from new-poured coffee.


There's a new contender for a Theory of Everything: as Dr. McKamy called it, the Big Toe. The guy who came up with it is a physicist and surfer, and quite a colorful character, and do be warned that there's some colorful language in this interview.

In my extremely non-physicist understanding of how the idea works, there's a mathematical construct called E8, that has 248 points, and Garrett Lisi is able to map subatomic particles on it. He's able to include all (?) the known particles, and they sort themselves out into sensible families, and there's even room for the particles they think might go with gravity. I like his intro: he talks about how a mathematical theory should be beautiful and simple, and the more elaborate an explanation is, the less likely it actually corresponds to reality.

Cool, no?

Hat tip: the Point.

Keats and Negative Capability

"Negative Capability" is one of those fuzzier concepts from Lit Topics. I know I read something about it, and it may have made sense at the time (or maybe it was one of those peculiar Romantic ideas), but I sure couldn't have explained it to you. But this morning I came across a discussion of it that I found interesting. And this post made it sympathetic, too.

Negative capability is being able to get your own highly important self out of the way and actually talk about whatever you're talking about. Shakespeare was very good at it: you may knock his plots,* but you really can't knock his characterization, at least not overall. His people seem to be real people, and there are such a lot of different people in his plays. They aren't all little Wills running around in different outfits. Keats thought this was a great example of negative capability. Shakespeare lets you see whatever he's portraying, and the playwright himself fades into the background.

In contrast, I would argue, Brian Jacques does not have much negative capability. I love Redwall, but he does tend to have the same characters in every book. (The same plot, too, but we won't go into that!) You have the brave mice, the earthy moles, the warlike badgers, and the evil rats and cats and stoats.

The article contrasts negative capability with propaganda. In that, the thing itself (the truth, the Universe As It Is) gets completely sunk underneath the interpretation.

I think that negative capability has a lot in common with the humility of acting. A good actor is able to get his own self out of the way and understand his character deeply enough to be that character. I talked about this quite a bit when I was directing Tempest. It's hard work, leaving behind your homework and your debate training and your personality long enough to turn into the King of Naples. It takes humility. But in order for the art to succeed, it's got to happen.

*Like Cymbeline. You can knock that plot as much as you like.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Quote of the day

"I saw that this morning written in chalk on the sidewalk: 'I dream in primary colors, but I bleed in shades of gray.' I thought that was pretty bizarre, so I stepped on it as I walked. It was over by the Black Hole, and weird things happen over there."

The good doctor

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Quote of the day

"Well, many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese--toasted, mostly--and woke up again, and here I were."

--Ben Gunn, Treasure Island

I've heard that quote! I don't know where, but I've heard it! And here I was reading Treasure Island, and came across it. Very cool.

Incidentally, it's a very good book, and I can't believe it's taken me this long to pick it up. I started it and next thing I noticed, I was over a third of the way through.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I blame the cultural experience

Some days are just weird. Today is among them.

I attribute this weirdness to last night, when I stayed up till midnight watching Breakfast at Tiffany's. I'm glad I watched it, but it was a cultural experience, and therefore slightly disturbing. That knocked my sleep schedule all out of order, and this morning I woke up right in the middle of a dream, which didn't want to release me to the land of the waking.

I had fun picking an outfit; I finally went with a variant of my "I-am-an-artiste!" ensemble, which was inspired by--I kid you not--an ad for laminate floors out of a magazine. I don't have the shoes to really carry it off like I wanted, but I think it'll muddle along with chocolate ballet flats. And enough bronze bangles and long earrings for an obscure rani. And--just for kicks and giggles--I did my hair in a braid instead of up, like I've worn for work for about the last fifteen weeks running.

I finally make it out of the house, and discover when I get to work that I went off and left my breakfast in the microwave. And I didn't have my morning tea at all, so I had my morning tea at work instead of my morning coffee.

Shirley agrees today is weird, but I don't know why. I'll ask for details later. :-)

Even the weather is acting up. It was a lovely clear morning, blue as blue, with just a few low-lying strands of mist hugging our mountains. Only, upon inspection, the mist was actually nasty brown smoke from our controlled burn which is going to turn into three controlled burns this weekend. There's fire, and then there's fire, and this fire has been going for two or three weeks. It can go away now, in my opinion.

I think I need coffee. Maybe coffee will normalize things.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Farsi of the day

There was once a three-legged dawg that walked into a saloon. Nobody knew him; nobody knew where he'd come from.

The sheriff narrowed his eyes against the setting sun. He followed him in.

"We don't want no trouble in this here town," he said.

The three-legged dawg replied, "Sheriff, I ain't lookin' for trouble. I'm just lookin' for the man that shot my paw."

So you understand my delight when I discovered that the Farsi for foot is "pa."

It also occurred to me that I could adapt my favorite Farsi sentence, "The milk is in the refrigerator," using the word "foot." If, for some reason, you wished to say, "The foot is in the mouth," you could always say, "Pa toye dahan hast."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Farsi of the day

The word for "chair" is "sandaly," as in, "the young man walked off the beach sandily." He must not have had a very effective chair. Or maybe the chair had been washed onto the beach sandily too, and shared.

This reminded the good doctor of his Navy days, when he was doing--something--and there was a physician there who was also an Airborne Ranger. His (the flight surgeon's) unit made him the chairman, and used to carry him around in a beat-up folding chair like a palanquin, and shout, "CHAIRBORNE!"

Monday, November 12, 2007

Burning the olive branch

I do adore wood fires. It pleases my soul when it's a gorgeous day out and we have one of our own trees to cut down and turn into nice neat piles of wood to feed said wood fire in our own fireplace. (Juniper is really beautiful wood: it has a red heart, like cedar.)

And it also pleases my soul that, in the course of chopping our own tree, we found a massive olive branch in our yard. When I say "branch," you should visualize something akin to half a tree. The county workers must have left it as a peace offering to atone for destroying our curb, sidewalk, and driveway.

We chopped it up too, and intend to burn it. :-D

Soap on a rope

"How do you spell 'rope'?" A.
"R-O-P-E?" Me
"I thought so, but then I thought of "soap" and got confused." -A.

Well, once she brought up the subject (and we brought up a lot more rhymes), I tried to research why "soap" is spelled differently. It comes, apparently, from the ME "sope" and the OE "sapa," with ties to some Germanic "seife." "Rope," in contrast, apparently came from ME "rope" and OE "rap," with ties to Germanic "reif." I can't figure out why soap developed an -oap instead of an -ope. It must have to do with that stray E on the end.

I need an Oxford English Dictionary. And a degree in linguistics...

Something else to do with Macbeth

This and this and this caught my eye. It makes sense, but I wouldn't have thought of it. Cool.

We thought you'd like this

The royal/editorial "we" has a name! It's a "nosism," as in the Latin "nos," "we."

This post discusses it and made me happy because it even included that bit from Mark Twain that Megan was always quoting.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Be still, my beating heart

As a general note of interest, this is my 500th post on my blog. I started it October 2004, not long before the presidential election; I remember because that night I was blogging about something entirely unrelated and had trouble posting due to the election-blog traffic. According to my calculations, that averages to a post every 2.2 days, or not quite every other day. Not too bad.

Yes, well. What I was really going to blog about was food.

Last night we watched Ratatouille on DVD. I like rats, and I like kitchens, though I do not like them together. But that movie always makes me want to cook.

So it was only appropriate that the good doctor sent me out this morning on a pastry run. I'd been craving a Black Forest strudel from the Coffee Booth, because they make them fresh and crispy and they're all full of berry-and-chocolate goodness. Oh my. I went mid-morning (it always feels dissipated and adventurous leaving the office at nine-thirty in the morning) and discovered them to be out of strudel. But that was okay; they had apricot scones and cranberry-orange scones and maple-walnut scones. I got a nice array.

No sooner had we sent half the scones to their just reward (those scones were very happy scones) when two representatives of a local oral surgeon turned up with about a quart of fresh salsa--real avocado in it!--and a big bag of tortilla chips. And we haven't even finished the tub of popcorn a local periodontist mailed us last week.

And just to make my life quite complete, it's a gorgeous day. The season is advanced enough to bring us sunbeams indoors, and the weather warm enough to leave the door open. Happiness.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Quote of the day

"We've got the nicest weather in the world out here. Don't tell, or they'll all come and build parking lots."


Monday, November 05, 2007

Farsi of the day

Here I've been, working away at memorizing the words for "tasty" and "nasty-tasting," when the obvious struck me.
Both words share "maze." The other half is "khosh," which means "good," and "bad," meaning, predictably, "bad."
Now, "maze" here means "tasty." But "maze" is a lot like "maize," which is corn; and corn used to have a much broader meaning, and be used for any sort of grain, and by extension to mean any sort of food.
Khoshmaze: good food: tasty. Badmaze: bad food: nasty-tasting. Perhaps it's not quite that obvious, but it did make sense, and also made me happy. :-)

Happy Guy Fawkes' Day!

Lord Peter planned to celebrate it by proposing to Harriet Vane.

Rumor has it that Shakespeare referenced it in Macbeth. (Maggie came across this theory when we were putting it on.)

That same rumor connects it with Milton having Satan try and blow up Heaven with gunpowder: a moment of Paradise Lost I'd never been able to sympathize with. I, like Lewis, always felt that Milton's angels have too much armor. Demons have no business with anything so mundane as gunpowder, honestly. But if it had the implications of conspiracy-treachery-and-terrorism, that might be an excuse for him (Milton).

Further rumor has it that it's a major plot point in V for Vendetta, but I can't promise anything, not having seen it. (Yet.)

It's actually a rather peculiar holiday, one memorializing a foiled attempt on the part of one Guy Fawkes and his 12 closest buddies to blow up Parliament with King James in it. The motive cited was to do something about the King's oppressive anti-Catholic policies; at any rate, it had rather the opposite effect, and made England more enthusiastically anti-Catholic.

This holiday is properly celebrated by burning things, preferably images of Guy Fawkes. (What do you do with gunpowder conspirators? BURN THEM!) There was some connection, apparently, in the British mind between Jesuits and witchcraft, so burning was...doubly appropriate.

Speaking of burning, the OED word-of-the-day claims that the etymology for "bonfire" really is "bone-fire," and they used to burn piles of animal bones, or heretics, or whatever. Much as I like bonfires, I greatly prefer them when they aren't burning people.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Books read and unread

Humiliating though it may be for a lit major, I don't think I've heard of a single of these "contemporary authors" the article surveyed.* But I liked the question they asked: what's your favorite book you haven't read? (Translation: what book have you most egregiously not read yet?) As a follow-up, what's a favorite or unusual book you have read?

Mmm....there are gazillions of books I really need to read. Top of my list presently, I'd probably put Brothers Karamazov and Treasure Island. The latter I need to read, because I've seen the Muppet version, the Disney Treasure Planet version, and even Treasure Planet in Farsi, and it's perfectly disgraceful to have missed the book itself. I actually own a copy of the book now; I got a lovely old hardback at the library used bookstore. I want to read Brothers K because Dr. Mitchell recommends it so highly. He was my academic advisor, after all.

My favorite random book must be M. M. Kaye's The Ordinary Princess. If I name my seventh daughter Amy, that's why.

*I think my favorite answer was the man who borrowed the first Harry Potter from one of his students about ten years ago and not only never finished it, he never gave it back, either! That's pretty bad.

God, who sustains life

My little Queen Anne passed away today. The fumes from her newly-cleaned cage did her in. I cried most of the afternoon.
So when I went to prepare Sunday school for tomorrow, the text proved especially appropriate. It's about God sustaining life, and the text is Paul's sermon on Mars Hill, from Acts 17.
He speaks of the "God who made the world and all things in it," who "is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist." Therefore we should repent and turn back to Him. And how did He demonstrate this massive assertion? He's "furnished proof to all men by raising Him [the Man Jesus] from the dead."
The proof that God sustains all life, my little mousie included, is the resurrection of Jesus. It's certain, even when there one fewer mouse in the house.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

That was...interesting

We have the most interesting experiences in Olive Garden. A couple summers ago, you long-term readers may remember, it was an Olive Garden waiter who was so very friendly and flirty with us. More recently, it was an Olive Garden waiter whom my sister pegged as having worked there a week. She asked, and sure enough, he'd been there exactly a week.

Yesterday we had two interesting events. First, we had rather an absentee waitress. I gather she was double-assigned, but for whatever reason, it took remarkably long for our food to arrive. Then the sister finished off her lemonade and wanted a refill. She sat and looked at it for, oh, maybe ten minutes. No waitress. Occasionally I'd see her doing a hundred-yard dash in the distance with goblets and a bottle, but was unable to catch her attention. I finally snagged a passing other member of the waitstaff and asked if they'd locate her for us.

"What's her name?"



"Maybe! Yeah, that sounds right!"

So off she went to track down Marcie. We heard her mellifluous voice wafting out from the kitchens, over the sounds of forks and Italian music and chatting diners. "MARCIE!" The sister and I burst out laughing.

A little bit later an awkward young man presents himself at our table. "Um, can I help you? Marcie's, ah, kind of busy."

He kindly brought the lemonade. Then Marcie finally made it. "Can I bring you your check? Or do you want dessert?"

Just the check was fine...

For our second interesting even, we made a trip to--if you'll excuse my mentioning it--the powder room. I walk in and observe a boy. Not a tiny boy, either; this one was maybe an 1999 model.

My first thought was, "Did I make a terrible mistake?" I consider: nope.

My second thought was, "Is your mother in here?" I consider, and with great self-restraint do not actually ask him. She must be. Surely. I look at him, and he ignores me, and I move right along.

I emerge to find something of a crowd. The glorious carnival-esque Olive Garden music is tootling away merrily in the background: dootly doot-doot doodly doot! His presumable mother is blocking one sink, and he himself is blocking the other, and my sister is standing around with her camel look enjoying the chaos, and his presumable older sister also comes out and gets in the way. I stand next to my sister and imitate her camel look. We all appreciate life. The music plays on. Dootly doot doot!

The alleged mother catches sight of me in the mirror. She yanks her offspring out of the way by the arm, and he sort of lurches toward the door, and sways back into the way, and then drifts off again. Dootly doot doot! I sneak in and wash, and the sister insinuates herself and she washes. The mother puts on lipstick. At length. The whole family trips out. The carnival music continues. There's silence as we take stock of our world.

I would just like to take this opportunity to request all you mothers to please don't bring your older sons into the ladies' room. Please. I even just split an infinitive in my sincerity. :-) As one of my sister's coworkers pronounced: If it's interesting in accounting or public restrooms, there's something wrong.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy All Hallow's Eve/ Halloween/ Reformation Day

In honor of the day...or something...I submit to you a pumpkin carving website. I got it from Julia W., who got it from Layla; and Sahlain Anteth got it from me, and sent it to Noa, Briane, and Kelsey. I lost track of it after that. But it's such a splendid little rounds-maker I just had to share it more.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Update on the Origen icon

I inquired of the Oracle--i.e. Dr. Smith--and this is his take on the icon of Origen.

The icon is of Origen. It is a Greek icon and so calls him Saint Origen, though the Western church does not recognize him as a saint because of the condemnation of his Christological views at the Second Council of Constantinople (553, two centuries after his death).

The scroll signifies a holy writer (Origen was a prolific biblical exegete even if theologically shaky at points). The nimbus (gold dinner plate behind his head) indicates a saint, but the flame is peculiar. Usually it shows up in icons of the Pentecost where it represents the Holy Ghost. Here it represents religious zeal (intellectual zeal), perhaps, or (inaccurately) martyrdom (since an ancient account has Origen suffered during the Decian persecution; he died later, though).

The cup contains the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in His Blood. I don't know why this particular feature would be associated with Origen. What I've read doesn't deal with the sacraments at all.

A fun question. Let me know if anyone of my hypotheses is wide of the mark. I am certainly no expert on iconography.

Fortune cookie fortune of the day

This gem is from my fortune-cookie-fortune wall here at the office.

"Depart not from the path which fate has you assigned."

Query: If fate has assigned it, how could you depart even if you wanted to? Doesn't fate affect our wills too?

And I adore the word order. It's so English-as-a-second-language.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Pablo Neruda: "Ode to Salt." I've never read much Neruda, and what I have read generally creeped me out. But this I liked. It's a little surreal, and mournful, mournful. I think Neruda is like Chesterton in his love of things. The poets are not strangely silent on the subject of salt.

Dorothy Parker: "Penelope." Parker's got wit and a point. Her poems remind me of Edna St. Vincent Millay. She may be my favorite new poet (new to me, that is!). I also liked her "Sanctuary."

Elizabeth Bishop: "Sestina." It's a slightly dismal sestina, but sestinas are worth reading anyway. :-)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Creativity, in various forms

I rather think I posted about artist Makoto Fujimura some time ago, but today I came across a longish speech on art and the church and monsters and imagination, also by him. It's quite good. The title sounds rather like "Dawning of the Age of Aquarius," but try not to worry about that. :-)

And you may not yet have seen an article from the National Review Online on "Harry Potter and the Art of Dying Well;" I hadn't, but I rather liked it. It isn't the full story. It didn't mention Dumbledore and Snape's rather questionable approach to killing, but I appreciated its perspective.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The horror, the horror

At least he was interesting... if heretical... and trippy...
You're Origen!

Monday, October 22, 2007

First snow

Good things come when it snows.

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-ting-a-ling too...

We had a few half-hearted flurries last Wednesday. I saw the clouds and sniffed the air, and thought it looked like snow, but figured it was too early. But the next morning they told me we got some anyway.

But the fire inside's delightful, and since we've no place to go...

We had a whole afternoon of the white stuff yesterday. It was a Sunday--hurray!--and Dad and I stayed home and enjoyed ourselves. We built a roaring fire and shared a big pot of Blumenthal Special Roast coffee, and I made pinto beans and cornbread for dinner. There was a ball game on, and a Scrabble game (which Dad won by three points, grr!), and a lovely pile of books. I spent time on Iona with a modern pilgrim and in the court of Louis XV with Madame de Pompadour, which was a combination.

The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through white and drifted snow...

Mom and the sister came home from Grandma's yesterday and arrived in time for the fire and a batch of brownies (thank you, soror mea) and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Come on, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you.

Then Jonathan called. It would have been lovely weather for a sleigh ride, here; but where he was, it was a perfect night for sitting in the gazebo and watching the stars over the lake. But a phone call is a good thing to receive in the snow, whichever end the snow is at, and one can hope for a white New Year.

Just like the ones I used to know, where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow...

This morning dawned (very late, it being this time of year) blue and cold. The ground was just frozen at my house, but as I drove up the hill, I found a thin white frosting that thickened into a ruffly layer over everything. And now the sun is up properly, and the eaves have all turned into slim flashing waterfalls, and the yellow leaves on the willow opposite are shaking themselves, much as to say, "What was that?"

In the meadow we can build a snowman, and pretend that he is Parson Brown...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

To Narnia and the north

I'm sitting at my computer, back to a window, and I can see in my monitor a reflection. It's of a sunlit wooden pillar, and the shadow of a pine branch is waving on it, blown by the same wind as its parent tree. I love watching the reflection of a shadow.

It reminds me a bit of Narnia. When Digory planted the golden apple in his front yard in England, you remember, often the daughter tree would sway on calm nights, out of friendliness for its home garden where there was a high wind.

Last night at church a little boy was watching a big yellow backhoe dig a trench. He and his dad and I looked out the kitchen window and saw it scoop, dump, back up, and scoop again. We got to talking: what if the trench went to Narnia? And what if we could follow it, swim along it, or even float down it?

There's something glorious about a little boy and a construction site. He watched the machine dig with the intensity ordinarily reserved for Deep Magic. They really are fascinating, though I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't been with him. So I suppose it makes sense to think of it digging to Narnia--or the Northern Frontier, which was the other possibility. Why not?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Farsi of the day

This Farsi word is one I tripped over in the dictionary when I was actually looking for "barghy" (electricity). But this one, "bargardandan," tickled me. It means "to upset." That so works.
"You really shouldn't have bargardandi the cat."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Farsi of the day

Today's Farsi is "gerba," meaning "cat." I illustrated. :-)

By their fruit you shall know them

Many and many a year ago--maybe in 2002--I was in Virginia and came across a strange tree with little orangey fruits on it.

"What is it?" I asked one of my fellow trail-walkers, probably Ben A. (He's the one I generally asked such things.)

"It's a persimmon tree," quoth he.

"Persimmons! How glorious!" I'd always wondered what manner of thing a persimmon might be. And now I knew.

Then last week, I was again walking along there, and the persimmon tree presented itself to my attention. The little orangey persimmons were peppering the trail. "Look, Jonathan! It's a persimmon tree!"

"Cool!" quoth he.

And I thought no more about it until Saturday. The sister and I were walking along behind the post office--our very own post office, that's been there half of forever--and lo and behold, I found a tree, with persimmons peppering the sidewalk below. "Look, Em!" quoth I. "It's a persimmon tree!"

To think, I had to go clear to Virginia to find what a persimmon tree was, and then found one right here. :-)

Quote of the day

"I had the weirdest dream last night. I dreamt that someone came and stole all my scrapbooking papers and sold them at a yard sale. So I went and collected them all—because they were Communists and redistributing the wealth of scrapbook materials—and they came and stole them again. And I went and collected them again. But by then it was kind of a bother because some of them had been sold and I didn’t get them all back." --Amelia

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Update on the mice

Queen Anne is a good name; one always remembers to use the feminine pronoun when referring to her. Poor Bing, however, had to put up with a fair number of him-er-her's. I think Bing Crosby was dancing through the backs of our minds, leaving his pronouns like footprints.

So we changed it. She, the mouse, is now Lady Jane Bing, in a nod to Pride and Prejudice and a sort of vague glimpse of a thought toward Henry VIII. It seems to work, though; both Anne and Bing generally get their proper pronouns now.

And they are getting less fearful. They won't actually ask me to pick them up, but Bing cuddled quite contentedly this evening.

Now, if they would just refrain from running on the wheel all night...

Saturday, October 13, 2007


"A house is not a home without a mouse."

I've had that stamp for a couple years, but never took it too seriously.

That is, I absolutely adored some mice at the pet store last summer, but when Mom pointed out that we had a cat, I accepted her logic. I was just doomed to be homeless, or something.

But when I arrived home Tuesday night, my family had a pile of presents waiting, and in the very first one, I found these two little beauties.

They're both young lady mice, the darker one being named Bing and the paler Queen Anne. They're rather cherry-like, actually. :-) This was the exciting purchase that the sister called to tell me about at the concert Friday night, as some of you may remember.

Lilly, my cat, has been very interested in them, but hasn't tried to eat them yet. I've kept them in their cage or else their little bubbles, to roll around in, and not given her an opportunity to sin. Queen Anne flips out whenever Lilly comes near, but Bing takes the matter much more sedately. Once she actually rolled toward the cat, which disconcerted her.

Hurray! I have mousies now! That would be "mushha" in the Farsi. Hm...if I'm the mouse-mistress, does that make me a mousestress?

Thursday, October 11, 2007


My blog, as some of you may have noticed, has been rather quiet this last week. I flew out to Virginia, and had no internet access to speak of; but now I'm back in the desert and the doctor's office and cyberspace. :-) Pretty much everything this week involved hanging out with Jonathan. I shall attempt not to use his name more than, oh, every other word, but you can be sure he was very present.
Kay picked me up at the airport Wednesday night and took me out to dinner. Jonathan was waiting for me the moment I arrived on campus. :-)
Thursday I helped Juli watch one of the professor's little girls, went on a brief photo rampage, and socialized all day. I socialized with the wing girls, and Dr. Libby, and Guthrie and Turner, and Dr. Hake. Then Jonathan's mother came, and Jonathan and I had dinner with her. I think we all enjoyed ourselves heartily, and then I went to Blackberry's that evening. It's a charming coffee shop in what used to be Cami's Paperie, another establishment I adored, and Blackberry's is almost good enough I didn't miss Cami's.
Friday was my birthday. We went for a nice long walk, bought a great many books, made it back in time to watch the soccer team quash Christendom in an awesome overtime shootout, and then the Peasalls did a concert! I can get excited about that! And then I got to socialize with Ben and Lisa and Kanary, and it was good.
Saturday... oh yes! The alumni meeting. That afternoon, Lisa and I went to a colonial fair, and in the evening we had a lovely swing dance.
We got up, with some difficulty, and went to church Sunday morning; I went to Jonathan's church and met one of Kay's students from last year. We met up with Ben and Lisa for the afternoon and touristed in Alexandria. I can recommend it. :-) I even got to go to evening worship, and oh, it was good.
Monday was my last day on-campus, and I spent most of it off campus with my friend Sarah. We hung out at her house (cute) with her husband and son (also cute) and then had lunch at a Mexican place in Leesburg that claimed to have New Mexican food. It was all right, but not very New Mexican. Then I hung out with Jonathan a bit more, and then we went over to Ben and Kanary's for dinner and Macbeth commentary. We'd been waiting for that night a long, long time. I was actually there for half an hour longer than at Lisa's house, which is where I slept afterwards. :-)
And Tuesday I came home. That was my trip. Everyone who kept me, visited with me, gave me birthday wishes or presents, or was otherwise wonderful: thank you so much. It was good to see you. :-)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Farsi of the day

This, "ghaza-y khoshmaze," is "tasty food." Today (dar vastruz) the good doctor (doktor-e khub) will take us out for ghaza-y khoshmaze. I am looking forward to it; and perhaps at the end, I will post a fortune cookie fortune. :-)

Song of the day

This morning, as I was driving up, the air was full of a mist coming up from the ground, and the sun coming over the Sangres turned it all golden. It was so like that scene in Fellowship of the Rings when Galadriel gives gifts to the travelers, as they float down the river to Rauros, golden Rauros-falls.

Anyway, the song of the day is Leaving on Jet Plane, which is apparently by John Denver.

"But he didn't originally record it; it might have been Peter Paul and Mary." The good doctor
"I thought they were dead." Amelia
"It was strongly suggested to me I go to their concert in Wolf Trap last weekend." Me
"They must not be very dead." Amelia
"Not if they're giving a concert." Me

All my bags are packed
I'm ready to go
I'm standin' here outside your door.
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin.
It's early morn.
The taxis waitin'.
He's blowin his horn
Already I'm so lonesome I could die.

So kiss me and smile for me.
Tell me that you'll wait for me.
Hold me like you'll never let me go, 'cause
I'm leavin' on a jet plane
Don't know when Ill be back again.
Oh babe, I hate to go.

There's so many times I've let you down
So many times I've played around
I tell you now, they don't mean a thing.
Ev'ry place I go, I'll think of you.
Ev'ry song I sing, I'll sing for you.
When I come back, I'll bring your wedding ring.

So kiss me and smile for me.
Tell me that you'll wait for me.
Hold me like you'll never let me go, 'cause
Im leavin' on a jet plane
Don't know when I'll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go.

Now the time has come to leave you
One more time.
Let me kiss you
Then close your eyes.
I'll be on my way
Dream about the days to come
When I won't have to leave alone
About the times, I won't have to say

Oh, kiss me and smile for me.
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go
'cause I'm leavin on a jet plane
Don't know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go.

But, I'm leavin' on a jet plane
Don't know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go.

Monday, October 01, 2007


This morning I was talking to a patient about his recent trip to Norway, and he surprised me by saying that Norway, since it's that whole north coast of Europe, actually goes farther east than Istanbul. Look at the map! It really does!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Princess Bride

I would just like to announce to y'all that The Princess Bride celebrates its twentieth anniversary! --Well, two days ago, according to IMDB. I missed it.


"You mean you wish to surrender to me? All right. I accept."

"My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."


"As you wish!"

And, just for fun, here's the Lego reenactment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

If you live near a live dragon...

Behold, the article.

Hat tip to WorldMagBlog. Please, read and argue. :-)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Honestly, some days

Some days, you've just got to hope that you get points for turning up and trying, because you sure won't get any for accomplishments.

Yesterday was an if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie kind of day where you spill everything, up to and including the cleaning solution you'd meant to clean up everything else with. HOWEVER. I managed to pour the milk without spilling, which is remarkable.

And then Jonathan called and made it all better. Nevertheless, I'm glad it's finally Monday....

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Wittingshire always has good posts, but I particularly liked this one. It seemed especially apropos in connection with that dismal article on the state of literary education.

I agree with the post. Memorizing is freeing to the soul, if you're memorizing words worth being memorized. :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Quote of the day

“And now I have two in my group! It is no longer singular! But it is still feminine.” Amelia
“But is it nominative?” Me
“It depends. If I said, 'I will go scold my group,' it would not be nominative.” Amelia
“Right. It would be a direct object, because it gets the benefit of your scolding.” Me
“Which would be accusative.” Amelia
“I think so.” Me
“In fact, it would be accusative in two senses.” Amelia

For the linguistically interested among you

Here's an English-to-Pirate translator.

Because it's Talk Like a Pirate Day

"We Are the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything"
by Mike Nawrocki, that genius of humor

Arr, arr, arr, arr

We are the pirates who don’t do anything
We just stay at home and lie around
And if you ask us to do anything
We'll just tell you we don’t do anything.

Well I’ve never been to Greenland
And I've never been to Denver
And I’ve never buried treasure in St. Louie or St. Paul.
And I’ve never been to Moscow
And I’ve never been to Tampa
And I’ve never been to Boston in the fall.

We're the pirates who don’t do anything
We just stay at home and lie around
And if you ask us to do anything
We'll just tell you we don’t do anything.

And I’ve never hoist the main sail
And I’ve never swabbed the poop deck
And I’ve never veered to starboard
'Cause I never sail at all.
And I’ve never walked the gangplank
And I’ve never owned a parrot
And I’ve never been to Boston in the fall.

We are the pirates who don’t do anything
We just stay at home and lie around
And if you ask us to do anything
We'll just tell you we don’t do anything.

Well I've never plucked a rooster
And I'm not too good at ping-pong
And I’ve never thrown my mashed potatoes
Up against the wall.
And I’ve never kissed a chipmunk
And I’ve never gotten head lice
And I’ve never been to Boston in the fall.

And I’ve never licked a spark plug
And I’ve never sniffed a stinkbug
And I’ve never painted daises
On a big red rubber ball.
And I’ve never bathed in yogurt
And I don’t look good in leggings
And we’ve never been to Boston in the fall!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Farsi of the day

Today's Farsi is "tala," meaning "gold." I tripped over the word during a lull in the day, when I was playing with my dictionary.
Then this evening I was reading an article off the BBC Persian site, and observed that it seemed to be using "tala" an awful lot. What's "tala" now?

The canon wars

Fascinating stuff. I think I own the Harold Bloom book the article discusses, but I haven't read it; maybe I should. My take:

-You should be able to read. What on earth is 12 years of education for, if it doesn't accomplish that? Socialization? Ptth!

-You should be able to read the literature in your field. (The good doctor, incidentally, agrees with me wholeheartedly. His mission in life--well, at the university where he teaches--is to train dental students to make sense of the dental literature and be able to evaluate it.)

-You should read the stuff worth reading. The canon, in my understanding, mostly means "the stuff worth reading."

Thanks, Amy, for the link. :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Dana Gioia: poet, director of the National Endowment for the Arts, and sensible man. I just read his 1991 essay on the state of the art (thank you, ThePoint), and thought you all would find it interesting, too.

So: anybody read any poetry lately? What did you think of it, really? We may as well start doing some decent criticism as anyone else: the whole web is at our doorstep. :-)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Quote of the day

"The next thing to remember about electrons is, they're like tenth-grade girls. They don't like to hang out by themselves."

I dearly love my town. Today we had a dad explaining electron orbits to his daughter in the waiting room. That's just what happens here. And, as he showed me when I mentioned how cool it was, his reading matter was--a booklet on health physics and a trail book.


Just weights and measures

According to the BBC, the EU has temporarily given up on making the British abandon their English measurements, their miles and pints and pounds.

I couldn't be more delighted. :-D Other people are free to use the metric system if they like; I've had plenty of physicists and chemists explain to me how wonderful it is, and they're perfectly correct that it's more efficient.

But there's more to life than efficiency. There's also locality, and history, and tradition, and poetry, and creativity, and plain old "because-we've-always-done-it-this-way." You can carry it too far and be enslaved to the past, to be sure, or you can carry the alternative too far, and lose what you've got that makes you distinct. Personally, I think the current era is overly inclined to give up good old things. And then people wonder why they have no roots.

Can you really imagine going into a pub and ordering a liter of bitter? I probably wouldn't because I rarely order bitter at all, but if I did, I wouldn't because it's cacophonous English. And what about Three Mile Island? That would be Four Point Eight Kilometer Island. I suppose you could talk about a really slow person "centimetering" along, but it doesn't have the same connotations as "inching," and is a lot harder to say.

English, of course, has molded around the system it's used forever. If the system changed, the language would adapt. It's good at that. It's just nice if it doesn't have to. Shakespeare has enough footnotes without having to explain what Shylock's pound of flesh would be in kilos.

None of these reasons might convince someone who doesn't already agree. That's fine. I like the occasional lost cause, much in the way I like homemade bread. Practicality alone gets boring. Sometimes the majority exchanges their birthright for lentil stew, and sometimes the dead speak with tongues of fire beyond the language of the living.

Anyway, whether from sense or stubbornness, I'm glad England considers their system worth making a fuss about. It's theirs, and after all, why should they use a system the French invented? ;-)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Farsi of the day

Today's Farsi is also from the first page of John. This is the little section caption above the first bit of chapter 1, and it reads, "Mesiyah beh danya-ey ma ahmad," or, "The Messiah came to our world."
It's beautiful, simple grammar, and beautiful, simple words, and even a beautiful, simple, complicated meaning. :-)

A murder solved

Hmm... another good reason not to make an enemy of a writer. Or something.

Didn't Harriet Vane talk about doing that?


Many of the happiest people I know have a habit of being interested in Things In General. They'll talk to anyone, and find something to be interested in; like Lord Peter, they actually care where their own drains go and about the emotional lives of income-tax collectors; as a result they have a boundless store of random knowledge to discuss; and they're just, well, happy.

In contrast, grumpy people seem to be tightly wound up in their own dismal little worlds, and it's difficult for anything to penetrate the cocoon.

I was reading a be-your-own-private-investigator book, and the author made the point that the two professions in which an interest in Things In General would come in handy were spying and writing. I'll agree with that, but I suspect it's useful in other professions, like anything where you have to interact with other humans. In fact, I could see caring about Things In General as a function of humility. It requires you to ignore yourself for the moment. Hmm...

Does this observation fit with y'all's experience, or do I just know remarkable people? :-)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Farsi of the day

I discovered today's Farsi when trying to translate--not the book, but the title--for the book of John.
"Eysee." This means "Jesus."
For He is Lord of Iran too, even if Bibles are illegal there...

The rain rain rain

"It was a glorious storm."
"First-rate, for those that like them and don't have to put up with those who don't." -Gaudy Night

Yesterday we did have a glorious storm, a regular gullywasher. It started looking ominous round about lunch, while Becca and I amused ourselves with her poetry homework, and by two, two-thirty it was dusk-dark and grumbling. Then the rain rain rain came down down down, and the grumbles turned to a positive temper tantrum, and a draggled patient reported seeing lots of sparks when a particularly exuberant strike struck a transformer across the street. Our power stayed on, rather to my surprise, but the internet died.

I stood in the doorway and watched it fall. It made waterfalls over the eaves and filled the gravel catch-ditches and flooded the sidewalk.

I'm fond of rain, especially when I don't have to be out in it. We had a nice hike the other day, Dad and I did. It hadn't rained for about two weeks and the air was full of that nasty haze that we get around here when it's been too dry. So we hiked down the Falls Trail and a lady coming back told us the falls were dry. I didn't believe her because Frijoles Creek is never dry. Tourists, honestly, but how could even a tourist miss the waterfall? But we got there, and sure enough, no falls.

Then the clouds came up, and we...were out in it. It was, in fact, really wet. Just about the time it'd stop and I'd start to think I might be getting dry, it would rain again. I have lots of pictures. But coming back, there was water at the Upper Falls, so the rain was worth it. I love rain, I really do, but it's much nicer to stand under cover and watch it. :-)

This morning was full of after-rain-ness. The dew covered Olwen. (I refer to my car, of course, but just saying it sounds like something from a fairy tale, or maybe The Destruction of Sennacherib.) All the bushes and wildflowers gazed soggily at the highway, shaking their leaves and enjoying the day. Sunflowers are out: the sunflowers are in full force in every ditch and along every road: I love sunflowers. And the light has that cool, pale, bright fall feel to it.

I wore a jacket to work this morning, for the first time this season.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A disturbing book

My wonderful sister, who knows me extremely well, brought me this book from Morocco. It's dual-language in French and Arabic. I don't actually know either, but I can read the characters for both and guess. (Latin and Farsi are beautiful things, even if they are both Indo-European.) She, on the other hand, can read Arabic somewhat. So we comfortably flopped on the floor together and made what we could of it.

It was traumatic! It's a picture book, so we assumed it would be nice. It was not. I missed most of the finer plot points, but with words like "sahara" and "jamal" and "loups" and "mort," we were able to pick up the gist. It was about a camel who gets separated from his caravan, and the wolves eat his carcasse.

On that disturbing discovery, we went and petted the cat.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Quote of the day

"I avoid my hearing aids whenever possible. When you have hearing loss, you get accustomed to not hearing these obnoxious sounds—machinery, and music. The hearing aid people will say that hearing is a precious things. I say controlled hearing is a precious thing. You hear what you want to hear, and see what you want to see, too."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Farsi of the day

Today's Farsi is this long-tailed critter, "Majerajuyan." It means "adventurers" (plural) and it's just fun to say. :-)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Farsi of the day

"Gal." It's "flower." I think it must be so because gals like flowers...either that, or if you're allergic to them, they gall.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


So I was playing Apples to Apples last night, and you know they say the green cards supposedly describe your character. Well, that's sort of like trusting fortune cookies, but anyway, last night I got two cards: "virtuous" and "fuzzy."

And, just for added fun, the red card that won me "virtuous" was "exorcism." :-D

It pleased me all out of proportion. :-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Beowulf, some more

I found another blog post on Beowulf; not so much the movie, which is looking regrettable, but the epic.

I won't precisely say "It's a Christian poem!!" I like Tolkien's analysis, that it's probably written by a Christian looking back at the ancient ways that have faded: close enough to love their good points, and Christian enough to discern what they are. I love Beowulf. I love the intolerable distance of the narrative, the bright glimpses into a grey world, the loneliness of iron and muscle against a monster with the cursed legacy of Cain, the author's language that has been described as "built" rather than flowing. I don't want to be Beowulf (miserable thought), nor yet marry him, but I love reading about him.

I like Beowulf because it's impressively not a modern work. It follows a lot of narrative rules we still go with, but it comes from an entirely different mindset and so ignores others completely. For instance, the hero does not have an affair with anyone, particularly the queen. In fact, the hero has no love interest whatsoever. It's refreshing.

Do you remember the commentary on the DVD for The Incredibles? The producers were talking about how the villain had to penetrate the Incredibles' very house and kidnap Jack-Jack, because that has a certain zing for the audience that no external attack can imitate. I just noticed that Beowulf starts with Grendel attacking--the hall. It's the king's house, and the symbol of Home for the whole kingdom. (That's another bit of the ancient mindset I like: the country is bound up in the middle, with the king and his capital, rather than by the exact borders he rules.) Beowulf, in a tense moment equal to anything in Bourne Ultimatum, lies awake in the dark waiting for Grendel to bring it on. Life is good.

The link talks about sacrifice so that others may live. Yes. It also talks about braggadocio as a sort of vow. It's very nice, living in a country where monsters don't generally eat you in your sleep; it's also nice that in countries where there are such hazards, they have the opportunity for heroes. There you can see what a man is made of. Beowulf is explicitly contrasted with another guy at the feast who's full of himself, but Beowulf delivers and the other slinks away with his tail between his legs. Beowulf may not be quite Christian enough to appreciate humility, but he is ancient enough to appreciate honor. I like that too.

Quote of the day

"I don't like fish. They're...strange." Amelia

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

So true

"Poets Billy Collins and Tess Gallagher comment on the relationship between writing and housekeeping. (Anyone who's ever been a student will recall how sparkling clean your house got the day before a big paper was due.)"

Yup. Definitely. Marian once told me she could always tell when I had a deadline for that very reason--of course, Marian being Marian knew most of my deadlines better than I knew them myself. :-) I still think it very good for all our souls that they had us do the dorm chores.

The rest of the article was pretty good too. It reminded me of Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking. Thanks, Firinnteine, for the link.

Quote of the day

Me: "Ack! You can do what you like with the magazine. Even recycle it."
Becca: "Burn it."
Me: "Burn it! Do you have any idea what kind of--carbon footprint you're leaving??"
Becca: "Magazines turn cool colors when you burn them."
Me: "You're right. I bet we could make a safe firepit in the woods out back..."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Life on the hill

They used to give directions from the water tower, they say, back before the streets had names. Now I give directions from Starbucks.

Not so much has changed.

Also--to switch the subject entirely--they still identify bodies by their teeth. There's nothing quite like forensic dentistry, after all. :-)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Art and Christianity (a nice broad title)

This article by Camille Paglia caught my attention (thank you, WorldMagBlog)--and she says art needs religion. The article does get crude in places, and also she's overly hard on the Puritans, but if you're up for it, as Dr. Bates put it, just blush and keep reading.

As for my two cents: yes, Protestants tend to be dismal at the visual arts per se. We just don't do that. I live in Northern New Mexico, and I love the way artistic whatsits pop out of the woodwork--literally, most of the time. I get a kick out of adobe and tile and murals, and the restaurants and coffee shops selling original paintings as a matter of course, and how Santa Fe fights graffiti on the power boxes by preemptively spray-painting odd designs on them. And I have frequently noticed how the artistically interesting stuff generally comes from people with whom I disagree theologically, philosophically, and/or morally. I would love it if we could put paintings of the saints in our church hallways--but I doubt that's going to happen.

But there are hopeful signs.

Scrapbooking is one of them. My church ladies, a whole contingent of them, are skilled scrapbookers. It may not be "high art," yet, but it's particular and a labor of love, and I suspect the itinerant Italian church painters weren't actually that "high" themselves--sort of like Shakespeare, who gets a halo of greatness that almost blots out his earthier moments.

Another thing: Paglia caught onto the rise of homeschooling, but she didn't mention how artistic they can be. Not all of them, of course, any more than all public schoolers are. But a lot of my homeschooled acquaintances are very accomplished musicians, or literary critics, or authors, or pencil-sketchers, or actors and directors, or filmmakers, or dancers. Homeschoolers are quirky, but they tend to follow what they love creatively.

We may not make murals of the saints, but we do make movies about them, fact and fiction, and some of the movies are even pretty decent. Just off hand, I can remember Amazing Grace, The Passion (all right, which is of Christ Himself), End of the Spear, and Second Chance.

Paglia is exactly right that we've mostly cut ourselves off from the artistic tradition, and that ought to be remedied. But people create: it's an imago Dei thing, and they can't help it. Art is not dead in evangelical circles, but maybe it's a little--blind?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Farsi of the day

First of all: Kirsten says, "Hi, blog world!"

Now to the Farsi. Today's word is...well, one Katherine of France had a bit of trouble with. It's the elbow. The Farsi is "Aranj," as in an orange, only not. An elbow the size (or color) of an orange is kind of a scary thought.

Now for the quote: Henry V, III.4.
Et le coude?

De elbow.

De elbow. Je m'en fais la repetition de tous les
mots que vous m'avez appris des a present.

Il est trop difficile, madame, comme je pense.

Excusez-moi, Alice; ecoutez: de hand, de fingres,
de nails, de arma, de bilbow.

De elbow, madame.

O Seigneur Dieu, je m'en oublie! de elbow.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


There are times when I suspect the good doctor has an unusual office. This morning his staff hung out in the reception area doing one anothers' hair. Yup.

Of a dagger and jewelry and a lot of good eating

I would just like to make an announcement: my sister is back in the state! HURRAY!

So yesterday my family and Kay and I all trotted to Albuquerque to retrieve her from the airport. It was a lateish flight, so we were forced to go down early and play. We had some leftovers before we went...and had a 3:00 second lunch (tomato bisque and rolls on a patio)...and toured Old Town and had 5:00 ice cream (mocha fudge and raspberry sorbet)... and shopped a bit more and met my parents for 7:30 dinner (salad and French onion soup with a raging rainstorm outside)... and shopped a bit more and retrieved the sister, and then, strangely enough, over to IHOP for sustenance and talk.

We had taken, as a mission (because shopping is always more amusing with a mission, however insignificant) my two watches with dead batteries, and it was our intent to hit every jewelry store in Old Town till we found one that could put them into working order again. We parked and went into the store right there. The salespeople were really anxious to help, but didn't sell batteries, but we should try Naranjo's three buildings down. We tried Naranjo's. It was one of those century-old buildings with uneven floors and the smell of having been in a time warp for the last few decades. A little old lady took my watches into the back room, and perhaps fifteen long quiet minutes later came back. Hurray! It's not that I couldn't just buy a new brown watch--it would have been only a bit more expensive, and a lot faster, since one of them had been out for several months--but it's nice, I think, to have things that aren't completely disposable. Besides, Grandma gave me one of them and I'm attached to it.

So we'd completed our mission on the second try, and just touristed for the rest of the afternoon. :-) The old church dominated the plaza, with thick adobe walls painted inside and a lovely gardeny garden out front. Old Town was full of beautiful jewelry. We admired the turquoise and the amethysts, the lapis and the Nantucket-blue stones from the Dominican Republic that were named something I'd never heard of before. We looked at the sidewalk vendors and expensive Mati place and random semi-upscale tourist shops. We like jewelry.

The salespeople were a perpetual source of amusement. One artsy lady in an artsy store said how much she liked my necklace (hot pink wooden beads). I didn't tell her it was $7.50 from a teenager store--though possibly she was buttering me up because I was a customer. There was another clerk who talked interminably to his buddy about local boxing. And then there was the young guy who spent a long time showing us amber, and I did finally buy some earrings from him. I'd been wanting amber earrings for quite a while. I think they, and the ice cream and batteries, were our only purchases in Old Town.

We finally did get the sister home. It's so good to have her back. She showed us what she got in Morocco, and we had some little presents we'd gotten for her because we missed her, and a cheerful time was had by all.

She brought me a dagger, an antique silver-worked something-or-other hard-bargained from the medina, with a curl to the blade and a Five Nails of Fatima design on the sheath. HAPPINESS!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Farsi of the day


That's "mouse" to us anglophones. :-) I liked "moosh" not only because it's a lot like the Latin "mus," but also because it's such a pleasant word to say. But yes: mus, moosh, mouse--Indo-European strikes again. Anyone know what it is in German or Norwegian or something else?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Summer is over and gone

Perhaps technically we have another two months of summer, but really it's done, and this is how I know: my house-sitting job is over today.

I took care of the cat, brought in the mail and papers, and took out the trash. It felt like a vacation cottage on Chincoteague--except better connectivity. :-)

The cat, incidentally, was quite a character. He's a young little thing, in contrast to my own beloved Lilly, and he plays. I'd forgotten that young cats will randomly attack things, like shoes, and zipper-pulls. Bo-Kitty drove me nuts most of the time, actually. He got underfoot. He tried to wake me up at 5:30 whether I wanted up or not. He would stalk across my computer keyboard. He noticed when I headed for the bathroom, bounded in ahead of me, and sat on the potty seat. I'd shove him off and he'd sit in the bathtub and lick around the drain. So I'd draw the curtain--that was his hint I was about to start the water--and lean dramatically toward the faucet. Bo would zoom out of there like I'd lit his tail on fire and yowl for me to open the door. So I'd open it and he'd leave and sit on the outside, yowling to be let back in. Honestly.

But he also had his endearing qualities. He liked to linger in whatever room I was in. And sometimes, every once in a while, he'd come curl up next to me.

So summer is over, and I've said goodbye to the cat. I get to go home and curl up with my own cat now.

Friday, July 27, 2007

In case you ever wondered...

If you drop a whole flat of caffeine-free diet cokes on concrete, three or so will spring leaks and start spewing all over the rose garden.

Just so you know.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Farsi of the day

This charming purple word, "yavash," means "slow." To get the full effect, you need to say it like this... yavaaaaaaaashhhh....


As declared by Lady Fortune the Absurd of Greater Internetshire:

Her Excellency C-- the Ineffable of Featherstonehaugh St Fanshaw
Her Grace Lady Rebecca the Nefarious of Fiddlers Green
Her Most Noble Lady Amelia the Prickly of Fishkill St Wednesday
Milady the Most Honourable Lisa the Woebegone of Lardle Midhoop
Grand Duchess Shirley the Convincing of Grasshopper in the Hole

A spot of something

"May I have some coffee?"

I looked at the patient. She elaborated.

"You said, last time I was in, I could have some coffee. Is that still okay? I'd like cream and sugar, a lot of cream and sugar."

Now that she mentioned it, we had offered her some. I woke up. "Absolutely! It'll be just a minute."

Back to the back; start a pot of coffee, find and wash an unidentified but very pretty mug, put in a good slosh of the highly preserved hazelnut cream and a spoon of sugar, wait for the very moment the coffee got done; then back to the front. I don't get to make people coffee very often. She said it was really good. Aww...

<:3 )------

"When we get our new office, it'll have to be a dental office and tea-and-coffee room. It'll be an English pub theme, with a coffee pot, and steak-and-kidney pie, and pictures from Oxford--"

"And cheese," I interjected.

"And cheese. And lovely serving wenches."

At which point he returned to his crown prep.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Farsi of the day

Today's phrase: "Khandan va neveshtan," meaning "read and write."

Both splendid activities, don't you think? :-)

Monday, July 23, 2007

A moment of office warfare

The good doctor: "I've been shooting at you, Shirley."
Shirley: "Oh, have you?"
The good doctor: "Haven't hit you yet."
Miguel: "She had her shields up."
The good doctor, in a funny accent: "Deflector shields down!"

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Blog rating


Online Dating


I used "knife" twice and "missionary" once. Makes it sound like something Jim Elliot would do in a jungle, doesn't it? Well, nobody claimed Christianity was G-rated...

Some things money can't buy

You know, I dearly love my town. It's so weird. The weirdness is particularly evident at the pre-movie commercials at our local theater, where they run ads for things like urgent care and the Episcopal church and insurance. But the pre-movie ads went further than ever before, the other day, when we had one for a free physics lecture.

The good doctor, today, is in search of A-4 paper. This is the European format, and he needs it to submit his thesis to Oxford. Therefore, I have been calling all the office supply stores here and in Santa Fe. A-4 paper cannot be had for love or money, except online.

I dialed into an office supply store, noting the faddy tagline, "that was easy." I tumbled into an automated phone system and landed in some hold music, assured that my call was very important to them. A man finally picked up.
"Hello, my name is C-- and I wondered if you had A-4 paper in stock."
"Um, I don't know... let me check for you."
We had some more hold music.
"May I help you?" It was a woman's voice.
"I believe someone is already helping me. I didn't catch his name. He's going to check on A-4 paper."
"I'll go check."
The hold music started again.
"May I help you?" It was a different woman's voice.
"I'm the one calling about the A-4 paper..."
"I'll go check for you."
Enter hold music, stage right. Meanwhile, my phone rang, so I put them on hold. When I got back they'd hung up on me.

So I called them back. The first guy answered.
"I'm so sorry, I'm new to the Santa Fe store... I don't know the phone system...I'm from Albuquerque.."
"No problem! Were you able to find about that A-4 paper for me?"
"We do have it online. Let me check if we've got it in stock."
He tried to put me on hold and accidentally hung up on me.

I called him back.
"I'm the one calling about the A-4 paper..."
"It's all right! Let me give you my name and phone number, and then you can call me back when you find it."
"All right!"

A bit later the phone rang.
"Dr. M's office, this is C."
"Is C-- available?"
"Yes, speaking."
"Ah. --I checked and it's online only."
"Thanks so much!"
And we both hung up, to our mutual relief, I'm sure.

Then I started down a list of office supply stores in Santa Fe, or businesses that might or might not be office supply stores. It was pretty entertaining.

"Hello, my name is C-- and I wondered if you had A-4 paper in stock."
"Hello, my name is C-- and we don't make A-4 paper. We make hand-pounded bark paper."
"Thank you."

"Can you tell me if you have A-4 paper in stock?"
"A-4 paper?"
"Is that like 8 1/2 by 11?"
"No, it's a European size."
"Thank you."

"Can you tell me if you have A-4 paper in stock?"
"A-4 paper?"
"I have no idea what that is." ::goes and looks:: "No, we don't have any."

"Do you have A-4 paper in stock?"
"No, we don't sell paper."

"Do you have A-4 paper in stock?"
"No, that's a European size."

"Fidel's Kwik Tan."
" Fidel's Office Supply available?"
"Do you have A-4 paper?"
"No ma'am, we don't."

To date, I have not found A-4 paper. The saga continues...