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.