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."
"Ah...is 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...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Movie review!

The movie is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I thoroughly enjoyed it. :-) Warning: there are probably spoilers, so if you don't like that sort of thing, watch out.

They did a really good job condensing the book. They kept all the really essential plot points--well, the essential ones as far as we know, seeing as the last book isn't out yet. The dementor attack on Harry and Dudley was properly grim. They had the house on Grimmauld Square, and it sure looked dark and nasty. Kreacher and the portrait of Sirius' mother made it in, though not at length. Harry's Occlumency lessons were mercifully abbreviated, but one did clearly get the idea they were a fiasco.

Umbridge minced around in her nasty hairy pink suits, going "hem, hem," and calling centaurs "filthy half-breeds." (Brilliant.) They had fun with the filmography for the bits where you had to find out what the Ministry of Magic was up to: you'd fly through layers of Wizarding newspapers, catching bits of headlines and moving pictures, and finally fall into scenes where Fudge was blustering to the press.

Several reviewers mentioned the Weasley's spectacular exit from Hogwarts: they're right. It rocked. It involved a dragon-firework kind of like the one from Bilbo's birthday party. It even knocked all Umbridge's Educational Decrees off the wall so they went smash on the stone floor. You've got to love it.

Most of the actors are so very good, I wished they got more screen time. Dumbledore is an exception; none of the movie Dumbledores have remotely gotten across why anyone should respect him, and this Dumbledore (partly by necessity) is even more distant than usual, even in the final explain-it-all scene. But Emma Thompson has the most charming and incompetent Trelawney--of course she's a right old fraud, but that doesn't mean Umbridge should kick her out. Kingsley Shacklebolt is cool as all-get-out; he, I think, wound up with a bigger part than in the book, because he had to fill in for various members of the Order of the Phoenix that got elided. Neville also wound up with a lot of house-elf lines, but it worked. Tonks is adorable. It took me aback to see her punk outfits, because when visualizing her I'd forgotten that detail, but it was perfect. "Don't call me Nymphadora." I really would have liked more Tonks in the movie. Luna Lovegood, actually, was almost as freaky as any of the Death Eaters, because she was so very calm and spacey. I've always rather liked Luna. She has the strength of character to be completely weird in a school environment, which is admirable.

Ralph Fiennes remains a disturbing Voldemort. But Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange took the cake. She was freakishly insane. One reviewer said she was "in full Banshee mode," and that's about right. She definitely didn't get enough screen time, and when she did, it was so dark you could barely see her. She wore black and blended in with the ill-lit Department of Mysteries, you see. I'm definitely looking forward to having her in the next movie.

One interesting thing: in abridging this movie, they actually removed some of Harry's angst. I found this fascinating compared to Lord of the Rings and Narnia, where they felt the need to give characters completely unwarranted I-can't-be-king-angst. I suspect it's because Harry, unlike Peter and Aragorn, already had enough angst to satisfy any scriptwriter's soul and to spare. So the movie Harry is considerably less irritating than the book Harry, who spends hundreds of pages whining and snapping at his friends.

The final scene is also less violent than in the book. I think it's because they wanted to shorten it so much, but none of the kids got knocked out or had bones broken or anything. They all got headlocked by Death Eaters and menaced with wands, and I think Luna got smashed in the teeth, and that's about it. Though Harry did get possessed by Voldemort in the end, which I don't remember from the book. But as an addition it worked. In the book, Harry escaped possession not so much by choice as by who he was as the accumulation of years of choices: even when he slipped and tried an Unforgivable Curse, it didn't work because he didn't have the hate stored up for it. This Harry was actually writhing on the ground full of Voldemort's nastiness, but he chose love instead--Dumbledore, hanging out with the Weasleys, Lupin, Hagrid, sitting around with Ron and Hermione, his parents' sacrifice--and that got rid of the Dark Lord. It was a less subtle event, and therefore worked better onscreen, but got across roughly the same idea.

So I liked it. It's dark, definitely dark, but it's not a particularly scary "jump" movie. I didn't scream once. :-)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Farsi of the day

The word for "orange," both the color and the fruit (as far as I can tell), is "porteghal."
I find this fascinating. I suspect that it's because oranges were imported from Portugal--the Iberian peninsula was famous for them. Remember in Much Ado, what Beatrice said about Claudio? "He is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well, but civil, Count, civil [Seville] as an orange, and much of that jealous complexion."
It does make me happy when Shakespeare trivia helps make sense of Farsi vocab. Hurrah for the unity of knowledge! :-)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Farsi of the day

Some things really do sound better in English.

I mention this because I've been doing a bit of injudicious translation. Take, as I did, the phrase "the great gray green greasy Limpopo river."

In Farsi it turns out "bozorg khakestari sabz roghani Limpopo rud."

I'm not making this up.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Quote of the day

"She insisted she had to come to the dentist's before she went to the ER."

This was said...in my waiting room...by her daughter. Yup.

It has been that kind of day. Can it be over yet, please?

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Some people have a terrible habit of going around narrating their own lives. It's not a nice trait. Facebook does not help.

I find myself thinking things like "I am discovering a devoted passion for raspberries" or "I am spending quality time with her guitar" (because when Facebook publishes your status you've got to put it in third person or it comes out weird).

So now most of my self-awareness follows the same passive sentence structure. I'm being trained to narrate my own life in the passive voice. Gruesome.

The only advantage to this I can think of is that it weeds out the worst excesses of purple prose because all my friends and relations will be subjected to the object of my sentence. Wit is therefore encouraged. Disturbingly enough, Facebook may actually be improving my writing skills.

Seriously: do any of the rest of you have this problem, or is it just me?

Bye, y'all. I'm going to go eat raspberries and spend quality time with my guitar.

The making of ratatouille

"Are you wise in the ways of eggplants?"

I quote verbatim from an IM conversation with Firinnteine's sister. I asked about eggplants because I am not wise in their ways; I bought one yesterday for the first time at our friendly neighborhood grocery store. It didn't glow ripely, sitting in the produce section with a sort of gold halo like an icon in a painting, which would have been nice, but the recipe called for an eggplant and the others were definitely more bunged-up. I ran into a patient while I was contemplating it and had a nice chat with her. I also had to rescue a bell pepper that leaped off its shelf between us. But eventually I bought my eggplant and red bell pepper and yellow bell pepper and zucchini and nice crusty bread, and had just pulled out of the store driveway onto the main road, when I realized I'd forgotten the tomatoes.

Oh bother. Well, I figured I'd just go fill my gas tank and make the loop back to the store. But the gas station was completely full (it was two cents less a gallon than the neighboring gas stations), so I made the loop without getting gas and bought the tomatoes. I went for tomatoes on-the-vine, both because they were the best price and because tomatoes on-the-vine have a je ne sais quoi about them. In French, that's "sur-le-vigne," and if that phrase doesn't make you want to cha-cha up and down the produce aisle, I don't know what will. While pretending I wasn't dancing, I ran into Becca, who was also buying supplies for dinner. I eventually removed myself and my tomatoes sur-le-vigne, smiling sheepishly at the same checker guy I'd seen a minute before, and got myself out of the store. The gas station did have a space this time and so I stopped there, feeling rather like a rat in a cage going round and round town, and finally I made it home with all my vegetables and bread.

I was going to make RATATOUILLE. The rat chef inspired me. "It is a peasant dish," but I'm a bit of a peasant, so that's cool. I saw the movie last weekend, and spent my (only two!) days at work before the Fourth researching various recipes online until I felt I had a good grip on what it is and how it is made. (It's always rather amusing researching recipes at work, because one can consult with Becca and the good doctor and various patients and you never know what you're going to learn. I had the fun of discussing both the recipe and the movie with one patient who had actually been to the same showing of the movie as I and then turned up at the office opportunely. He had no particular interest in the recipe; he was more concerned with the hidden pictures in the June Highlights. But Becca and I got off onto Javanese potlucks.)

So I'd copied down a recipe, making various annotations from other recipes that I liked the sound of better, and now the time had come, the Saturday fit for cooking, when I'd start it. I'd also baked cookies that afternoon which had not been a success. I think they needed more flour or oats. They sort of fainted in the oven heat and went really, really flat. But did I allow one mixed success to turn aside my determination to make RATATOUILLE? No, I did not! The moral of the movie is that anyone can cook! I had my vegetables! I was going to stew them!

Roight. Olive oil in a Dutch oven: check. Sliced onions sauted in said Dutch oven and olive oil: check. Diced bell peppers: check. Diced zucchini: check. I think mine was a cucumber, but close enough. The heat was going and the veggies were cooking.

The time came for the important, the un-haloed, the mysterious eggplant. I got the thing washed and inspected it, knife in hand. It was a nice dark purple, slightly waxy. Finally I saw why they persist in calling sweaters and corduroy pants "eggplant": they really are that color. My specimen had a sort of hairy green starfish plastered to the smaller end, that presumably began life as its leaves and stem. I raised my knife--and paused.

Were you supposed to peel the thing?

I checked the recipe I'd written down. Of course it didn't mention peeling one way or the other. Now, I've always heard that in third-world countries you need to peel your vegetables or else soak them in iodine or else risk getting some horrible disease. I wasn't too afraid of horrible diseases, not from the friendly neighborhood grocery store where my patients shop, but the peeling could be...poisonous. Or bitter. Or just not edible.

When in doubt, poke it. I squashed an eggplant-colored surface experimentally. It smooshed slightly, like any normal plant. Hmm.

So I did what anyone in my place would have done and went to the computer. Maybe the omniscient Google could tell me. But wait! Instant messenger was up, and Ben was on! When it comes to food I definitely trust Ben over Google, so I shot him my random inquiry. But he didn't answer. Bummer. But just then Firinnteine's sister IMed me, mentioning artichokes, so I thought it worthwhile to ask her about the eggplant. She didn't really know about eggplants either, though she said there'd been one in her kitchen recently, until it molded. I resorted to Google and as far as I could tell, people peeled it about half the time and didn't peel it when they were afraid the innards might disintegrate (like if they were grilling it) or if they wanted to be extra healthy.

I, of course, avoid healthy recipes like the plague, so I immediately resolved to peel it. I told Firinnteinne's sister so and she said I just wanted to play with knives. Well, of course. I've got a really good paring knife. On that friendly note I went back to my cozily bubbling Dutch oven full of olive oil, onion, bell pepper, and cucumber, and attacked the eggplant.

I chopped off the hairy starfish and started skinning the remnant. It was whitish inside and kind of spongy, almost apple-like, and turned dark quickly when exposed to air. I cubed it and noted that it had lines of little black seeds in it like a banana. So I chucked my apple-banana-vegetable-bits in the Dutch oven and dealt with the tomatoes I'd gone to so much effort to procure.

Tomatoes, sur-le-vigne, on the cutting board! Slice, slice, in-the-pot! Slice, slice, in-the-pot! One, two, cha-cha-cha! A bit of water, a bit of simmering, a few scraps of basil and parsley and thyme, a slice of nice crusty bread, and voila!


olive oil
2 onions
2 bell peppers, of whatever colors please your soul
1 zucchini
1 eggplant
3 or 4 tomatoes
A sprinkling each of parsley, basil, thyme, and garlic
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Slice or chop everything. Saute the onion in the olive oil until clear. Keep adding ingredients, from hardest to softest, letting it cook a little between each ingredient, and adding water so it doesn't stick to the Dutch oven. Add herbs and simmer until everything is soft but not falling apart. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with nice crusty bread.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Breakfast fare

"Herman was sitting on a piece of tin over a hole, and when they lit the gasoline under him, he went about four feet in the air, a-flappin' his arms and legs all over the place!" Grandad

"You know, if he'd been killed, this wouldn't be a funny story any more." Mom

"I bet that tin got pretty hot." Grandma

"Nope, it didn't stay put long enough to get hot. See, they had this old leftover gasoline, and he said to get rid of it. So they put it in an ol' post-hole, about yay deep, and tossed a match in, and it went whoosh. So they put a metal bucket over the hole, let the fumes build up a minute, and then tossed a match in at the side, and it popped the bucket up." Grandad

"I can see the progression. From a hole, to a bucket on the hole, to a piece of tin--" Dad

"Yeah, from there it was just a step to putting Herman on the tin!" Mom

"Well, he didn't mind." Grandad

"You mean you were there?" Dad

"Oh yeah." Grandad

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Farsi of the day

The cheese is the thing, wherein to catch... um.. the mouse?

"Cheese" actually is the Farsi for "thing." Life is good. Hope you have a very cheesy day.