Sunday, 30 November 2008

The Last Post of November

Now... how scary is that?

When did it become December? How did the last eleven just zip by? I must say that while there were some really good points and accomplishments and positive things that happened this year, there were some really huge, life-altering, megative events that shattered the comfortable, happy, blessed life that I had. And sure, there are people who have had a much worse year than I; but this was a really bad one for me.

At the end of the last few years, I hear myself saying it will be a new year and it will be great. Everything will be different. Yes, I was right about one thing. Everything was certainly different. And not really in a good, happy, the lights are shining, everyone's smiling kind of way. I don't want to say that this New Year's Eve. In fact, I think I will ride on New Years Eve just to not think about these things!

Regardless, I can't believe the year is careening to a close. Did I miss it? How'd pass by so quickly?

I don't know. I do know that I need to get many strings of coloured Christmas tree lights - for the tree we don't yet have and for the windows around the house.

Well.... HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

The Thin Wall

The sound is on the visions move
The image dance starts once again
They shuffle with a bovine grace
And glide in syncopation

Just living lines from books we've read
With atmospheres of days gone by
With paper smiles
The screenplay calls a message for the nation

And those who sneer will fade and die
And those who laugh will surely fall
And those who know will always
Feel their backs against the thin wall
The thin wall
Thin wall

Grey men who speak of victory
Shed light upon their stolen life
They drive by night and act
As if they're moved by unheard music

To step in time and play the part
With velvet voices smooth and cold
Their power games a game no more
And long the chance to use it

And those who dance will spin and turn
And those who wait will wait no more
And those talk will hear the word
And those who sneer will fade and die
And those who laugh will surely fall
And those who know will always
Feel their backs against the thin wall
The thin wall
Thin wall
The thin wall

And those who dance
The thin wall
And those who talk
The thin wall
And those who sneer
The thin wall
And those who laugh
The thin wall
And those who know
The thin wall
And those who dance
The thin wall
And those who wait
The thin wall
And those who talk

Venus in a Love Triangle

Someone posted this:

"O, how complicated our heavenly bodies, how lovely their trysts, how ephemeral their passings!

Forgive me my waxing poetical, but this is astronomy, and if the Moon can wax, so can I.

But what I said is true, and you can see it for yourself: take a walk outside over the next few evenings. In the west, just after sunset, Venus and Jupiter grace our skies.Over the course of several nights, as Venus orbits the Sun it appears to be slowly moving eastward, approaching Jupiter. It’s very pretty, and on December 1 the thin crescent Moon will join them!

Even better, for viewers in Europe and NW Africa, on December 1st at 15:50 GMT, the Moon will pass directly in front of Venus! This does not happen very often, so if you get a chance and have clear skies, you should take a look. Watching Venus disappear behind the Moon is something I’ve only seen once, and it’s very cool."

I love that. And I have seen the tryst between Venus and Jupiter and it is a sight to behold. The two brightest objects in the sky definitely steal the show.

Unfortunately, my glimpses of the two star-crossed lovers has been brief. The clear evenings versus the cloudy ones are a lousy ratio, and it seems it will not be getting better. I won't be able to see the transition of the Moon across Venus - not unless the weather, by some miracle clears up. This morning it snowed. Today is overcast and lousy. Tomorrow is supposed to rain all day.

Rats!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

I'm Going Slightly Mad

When the outside temperature rises
And the meaning is oh so clear
One thousand and one yellow daffodils
Begin to dance in front of you - oh dear

Are they trying to tell you something
You're missing that one final screw
You're simply not in the pink my dear
To be honest you haven't got a clue

I'm going slightly mad, I'm going slightly mad
It finally happened - happened
It finally happened - oooh oh
It finally happened... I'm slightly mad
Oh dear

I'm one card short of a full deck
I'm not quite the shilling
One wave short of a shipwreck
I'm not my usual top billing

I'm coming down with a fever
I'm really out to sea
This kettle is boiling over
I think I'm a banana tree
Oh dear

I'm going slightly mad
I'm going slightly mad
It finally happened - happened
It finally happened - uh huh

It finally happened...
I'm slightly mad
Oh dear

I'm knitting with only one needle
Unravelling fast it's true
I'm driving only three wheels these days
But my dear how about you?

I'm going slightly mad
I'm going slightly mad
It finally happened
It finally happened - oh yes

It finally happened
I'm slightly mad
Just very slightly mad
And there you have it

Friday, 28 November 2008

Virtuality

Like a shipwrecked mariner adrift on an unknown sea
Clinging to the wreckage of the lost ship Fantasy
I'm a castaway, stranded in a desolate land
I can see the footprints in the virtual sand

Net boy, net girl
Send your signal 'round the world
Let your fingers walk and talk
And set you free

Net boy, net girl
Send your impulse 'round the world
Put your message in a modem
And throw it in the Cyber Sea

Astronauts in the weightlessness of pixellated space
Exchange graffiti with a disembodied race
I can save the universe in a grain of sand
I can hold the future in my virtual hand

Let's dance tonight
To a virtual song
Press this key
And you can play along

Let's fly tonight
On our virtual wings
Press this key
To see amazing things

Like a pair of vagabonds
Who wave between two passing trains
Or the glimpse of a woman's smile
Through a window in the rain

I can smell her perfume
I can taste her lips
I can feel the voltage
From her fingertips

Net boy, net girl
Send your heartbeat round the world

Fun Facts About New Jersey

Facts about NJ...
(If you've ever lived in Jersey... you'll appreciate this!)

New Jersey is a peninsula.Highlands,New Jersey has the highest elevation along the entire eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida.

New Jersey is the only state where all of its counties are classified as metropolitan areas.

New Jersey has more race horses than Kentucky.

New Jersey has more Cubans in Union City (1 sq mi.) than Havana, Cuba.

New Jersey has the densest system of highways and railroads in the US.

New Jersey has the highest cost of living, the highest cost of auto insurance and also has the highest property taxes in the nation.

New Jersey has the most diners in the world and is sometimes referred to as the "Diner Capital of the World."

New Jersey is home to the original Mystery Pork Parts Club (no, not Spam): Taylor Ham or Pork Roll.

Home to the less mysterious but the best Italian hot dogs and Italian sausage w/peppers and onions.

North Jersey has the most shopping malls in one area in the world, with seven major shopping malls in a 25 square mile radius.

New Jersey is home to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

The Passaic River was the site of the first submarine ride by inventor John P. Holland.

New Jersey has 50+ resort cities & towns; some of the nation's most famous: Asbury Park, Wildwood, Atlantic City, Seaside Heights, Long Branch, Cape May.

New Jersey has the most stringent testing along our coastline forwater quality control than any other seaboard state in the entire country.

New Jersey is a leading technology & industrial state and is the largest chemical producing state in the nation when you include pharmaceuticals.

Jersey tomatoes are known the world over as being the best you can buy.

New Jersey is the world leader in blueberry and cranberry production (and here you thought Massachusetts).

Here's to New Jersey - the toast of the country! In 1642, the first brewery in America, opened in Hoboken.

New Jersey rocks! The famous Les Paul invented the first solid body electric guitar in Mahwah, in 1940.

New Jersey is a major seaport state with the largest seaport in the US, located in Elizabeth.

Nearly 80 percent of what our nation imports comes through Elizabeth Seaport first.

New Jersey is home to one of the nation's busiest airports (in Newark), Liberty International.

George Washington slept here. Several important Revolutionary War battles were fought on New Jersey soil, led by General George Washington.

The light bulb, phonograph (record player), and motion picture projector, were invented by Thomas Edison in his Menlo Park, NJ , laboratory. We also boast the first town ever lit by incandescent bulbs.

The first seaplane was built in Keyport, NJ.

The first airmail (to Chicago) was started from Keyport, NJ.

The first phonograph records were made in Camden, NJ.

New Jersey was home to the Miss America Pageant held in Atlantic City.

The game Monopoly, played all over the world, named the streets on its playing board after the actual streets in Atlantic City. And, Atlantic City has the longest boardwalk in the world, not to mention salt water taffy.

New Jersey has the largest petroleum containment area outside of the Middle East countries.

The first Indian reservation was in New Jersey, in the Watchung Mountains.

New Jersey has the tallest water-tower in the world (Union, NJ).

New Jersey had the first medical center, in Jersey City. The Pulaski Skyway, from Jersey City to Newark, was the first skyway highway. NJ built the first tunnel under a river, the Hudson (Holland Tunnel).

The first baseball game was played in Hoboken, NJ, which is also the birth place of Frank Sinatra.

The first intercollegiate football game was played in New Brunswick in 1889 (Rutgers College played Princeton).

The first drive-in movie theater was opened in Camden , NJ, (but they're all gone now)!

New Jersey is home to 2 out of 3 of "NEW YORK 'S" pro football teams!

The first radio station and broadcast was in Paterson, NJ. The first FM radio broadcast was made from Alpine, NJ, by Maj. Thomas Armstrong.

All New Jersey natives: Sal Martorano, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Jason Alexander, Queen Latifah, Susan Sarandon, Connie Francis, Shaq, Judy Blume, Aaron Burr, Joan Robertson, Ken Kross, Dionne Warwick, Sarah Vaughn, Budd Abbott, Lou Costello, Alan Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, Marilynn McCoo, Flip Wilson, Alexander Hamilton, Whitney Houston, Eddie Money, Linda McElroy, Eileen Donnelly, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Walt Whitman, Jerry Lewis, Tom Cruise, Joyce Kilmer, Bruce Willis, Caesar Romero, Lauryn Hill, Ice-T, Nick Adams, Nathan Lane, Sandra Dee, Danny DeVito, Richard Conti, Joe Pesci, Joe Piscopo, Joe DePasquale, Robert Blake, John Forsythe, Meryl Streep, Loretta Swit, Norman Lloyd, Paul Simon, Jerry Herman, Gorden McCrae, Kevin Spacey, John Travolta, Phyllis Newman, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Eva Marie Saint, Elisabeth Shue, Zebulon Pike, James Fennimore Cooper, Admiral Wm. Halsey, Jr., Dave Thomas (Wendy's),William Carlos Williams, Ray Liotta, Robert Wuhl, Bob Reyers, Paul Robeson, Ernie Kovacs, Joseph Macchia, Kelly Ripa, and, of course, Francis Albert Sinatra and "Uncle Floyd" Vivino.

Bob Meade adds: The Great Falls in Paterson, on the Passaic River, is the second highest water fall on the East Coast of the US.

You know you're from Jersey when . . .
You don't think of fruit when people mention "The Oranges".

You know that it's called Great Adventure, not Six Flags.

A good, quick breakfast is a hard roll with butter.

You've known the way to Seaside Heights since you were seven.

You've eaten at a diner, when you were stoned or drunk, at 3 A.M.

You know that the state isn't one big oil refinery.

At least three people in your family still love Bruce Springsteen, and you know the town Jon Bon Jovi is from. (Actually, no one in my family loves Bruce Springsteen and I have no idea where Jon Bon Jovi was born.)

You know what a "jug handle" is.

You know that WaWa is a convenience store.

You know that the state isn't all farmland.

You know that there are no "beaches" in New Jersey- there's the shore--and you don't go "to the shore," you go "down the shore." And when you are there, you're not "at the shore"; you are "down the shore."

You know how to properly negotiate a circle.

You knew that the last sentence had to do with driving.

You know that this is the only "New" state that doesn't require "New" to identify it (try . . . Mexico, York, Hampshire-- doesn't work, does it).

You know that a "White Castle" is the name of BOTH a fast food chain AND a fast food sandwich.

You consider putting mayo on a corned beef sandwich sacrilege.

You don't think "What exit?" is very funny.

You know that people from the 609 area code are "a little different." Yes they are!

You know that no respectable New Jerseyan goes to Princeton - that's for out-of-staters.

The Jets-Giants game has started fights at your school or local bar.

You live within 20 minutes of at least three different malls.

You refer to all highways and interstates by their numbers. (I had no idea that this was a New Jersey thing... isn't that what everyone calls highways?)

Every year you have at least one kid in your class named Tony.

You know the location of every clip shown in the Sopranos opening credits.

You've gotten on the wrong highway trying to get out of the mall.

You know that people from North Jersey go to Seaside Heights, and people from Central Jersey go to Belmar, and people from South Jersey go to Wildwood. It can be no other way.

You weren't raised in New Jersey -- you were raised in either North Jersey, Central Jersey or South Jersey.

You don't consider Newark or Camden to actually be part of the state.

You remember the stores Korvettes, Two Guys, Rickels, Channel, Bambergers and Orbach's. You also remember Palisades Amusement Park.

You've had a boardwalk cheese steak and vinegar fries.

You start planning for Memorial Day weekend in February.

And finally . . . You've NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER pumped your own gas!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

A.W.A.D. - Not-So-Common Words

Most of the words we feature here in AWAD are nouns, adjectives, and verbs. We have also discussed many adverbs. We have even featured a whole week of prepositions -- but not a single conjunction.

It's as if we had unknowingly been committing asyndeton, the fancy word for for omission of conjunctions, as in "I came, I saw, I conquered." The word is from Greek an- (not) + syndetos (bound together). On the other hand, if one is extravagant with conjunctions, as in "Uncle Charlie gobbled cookies and bagels and pizza and pasta," it's called polysyndeton.

It's time to redress the years of injustice and neglect of conjunctions in AWAD. We'll bring this overlooked part of speech into the limelight. This week let's look at five not-so-common conjunctions.

argal
PRONUNCIATION: (AHR-guhl)
MEANING: conjunction, adverb: Therefore.

ETYMOLOGY: By alteration of the Latin ergo (therefore). The word argal is usually used to indicate that the reasoning presented is ludicrous.

sobeit
PRONUNCIATION: (so-BEE-it)
MEANING: conjunction: Provided that.

ETYMOLOGY: From so + be + it.

whencesoever
PRONUNCIATION: (hwens-so-EV-uhr)
MEANING: conjunction, adverb: From whatever place.

ETYMOLOGY: From whence (from what place) + soever (at all, of any kind).

albeit
PRONUNCIATION: (al-BEE-it)
MEANING: conjunction: Even though; although.

ETYMOLOGY: From Middle English al be it (all though it be).

forwhy
PRONUNCIATION: (for-HWY)
MEANING:
adverb: Why
conjunction: Because

ETYMOLOGY: From for + why

Dog Years

In a dog's life
A year is really more like seven
And all too soon a canine
Will be chasing cars in doggie heaven

It seems to me
As we make our own few circles 'round the sun
We get it backwards
And our seven years go by like one

Dog years... It's the season of the itch
Dog years... With every scratch it reappears

In the dog days
People look to Sirius
Dogs cry for the moon
But these connections are mysterious

It seems to me
While it's true that every dog will have his day
When all the bones are buried
There is barely time to go outside and play

Dog years... It's the season of the itch
Dog years... With every scratch it reappears
Dog years... For every sad son of a bitch
Dog years... With his tail between his ears

I'd rather be a tortoise from Galapagos
Or a span of geological time
Than be living in these dog years
In a dog's brain

A constant buzz of low level static
One sniff at the hydrant
And the answer is automatic
It seems to me

As well make our own few circles
'Round the block
We've lost our senses
For the higher level static of talk

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Show Me, Don't Tell Me

How many times do you hear it?
It goes on all day long
Everyone knows everything
And no one's ever wrong
Until later...

Who can you believe?
It's hard to play it safe
But apart from a few good friends
We don't take anything on faith
Until later

...Show...don't tell...

(Show me, don't tell me)
You've figured out the score
(Show me, don't tell me)
I've heard it all before
(Show me, don't tell me)
I don't care what you say
(Show me, don't tell me)

You can twist perceptions
Reality won't budge
You can raise objections
I will be the judge
And the jury

I'll give it due reflection
Watching from the fence
Give the jury direction
Based on the evidence
I, the jury

(Show me, don't tell me)
Hey, order in the court
(Show me, don't tell me)
Let's try to keep it short
(Show me, don't tell me)
Enough of your demands
(Show me, don't tell me)
Witness take the stand
(Show me, don't tell me)

(Show me, don't tell me)
Hey, order in the court
(Show me, don't tell me)
Let's try to keep it short
(Show me, don't tell me)
I don't care what you say
(Show me, don't tell me)
Let's see exhibit A

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Speed of Love

Love is born with lightning bolts
Electro-magnetic force
Burning skin and fireworks
A storm on a raging course

Like a force of nature
Love can fade with the stars at dawn
Sometimes it takes all your strength
Just to keep holding on

At the speed of love
A radiance that travels
At the speed of love
My heart goes out to you

Love is born with solar flares
From two magnetic poles
It moves towards a higher plane
Where two halves make two wholes

Like a force of nature
Love shines in many forms
One night we are bathed in light
One day carried away in the storms

At the speed of love
Nothing changes faster
Than the speed of love
My heart goes out to you

We don't have to talk
We don't even have to touch
I can feel your presence
In the silence that we share

Got to keep moving
At the speed of love
Nothing changes faster
Than the speed of love

Got to keep on shining
At the speed of love
Nothing changes faster
Than the speed of love

At the speed of love
A radiance that travels
At the speed of love
My heart goes out to you

Monday, 24 November 2008

Turn the Page

Nothing can survive in a vacuum
No one can exists all alone
We pretend things only happen to strangers
We've all got problems of our own

It's enough to learn to share our pleasures
We can't soothe pain with sympathy
All that we can do is be reminded
We shake our heads at the tragedy

Every day we're standing in a time capsule
Racing down a river from the past
Every day we're standing in a wind tunnel
Facing down the future coming fast

Looking at the long range forecast
Catching all the names in the news
Checking out the state of the nation
Learning the environmental blues

Truth is after all a moving target
Hairs to split, and pieces that don't fit
How can anybody be enlightened?
Truth is after all so poorly lit

It's just the age
It's just a stage
We disengage
We turn the page

Every day we're standing in a time capsule
(It's just a stage)
We disengage, we turn the page
Racing down the river running fast

Every day we're standing in a wind tunnel
(It's just a stage)
We disengage, we turn the page
Facing down the future coming fast

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Mystic Rhythms

So many things I think about
When I look far away
Things I know, things I wonder
Things I'd like to say

The more we think we know about
The greater the unknown
We suspend our disbelief
And we are not alone...

Mystic rhythms
Capture my thoughts
Carry them away
Mysteries of night
Escape the light of day

Mystic rhythms
Under northern lights
Or the African sun
Primitive things stir
The hearts of everyone

We sometimes catch a window
A glimpse of what's beyond
Was it just imagination
Stringing us along?

More things than are dreamed about
Unseen and unexplained
We suspend our disbelief
And we are entertained

Mystic rhythms
Capture my thoughts
Carry them away
Nature seems to spin
A supernatural way

Mystic rhythms
Under city lights
Or a canopy of stars
We feel the powers
And wonder what they are

Mystic rhythms
Capture my thoughts
Carry them away
Nature seems to spin
A supernatural way

Mystic rhythms
Under city lights
Or a canopy of stars
We feel the push and pull
Of restless rhythms from afar

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Between the Wheels

To live between a rock and a hard place
In between time
Cruising in prime time

Soaking up the cathode rays
To live between the wars in our time
Living in real timeHolding the good time
Holding on to yesterdays

You know how that rabbit feels
Going under your speeding wheels
Bright images flashing by
Like windshields towards a fly
Frozen in the fatal climb
But the wheels of time
Just pass you by

Wheels can take you around
Wheels can cut you down
We can go from boom to bust
From dreams to a bowl of dust

We can fall from rockets' red glare
Down to "Brother can you spare..."
Another warAnother wasteland
And another lost generation

It slips between your hands like water
This living in real timeA dizzying lifetime
Reeling by on celluloid
Struck between the eyes
By the big-time world
Walking uneasy streets
Hiding beneath the sheets
Got to try and fill the void

Wheels can take you around
Wheels can cut you down
We can go from boom to bust
From dreams to a bowl of dust

Friday, 21 November 2008

A GREAT Reply to Taking the Fun Out of Dysfunctional

My father (biological) wrote me this:
I have to say your family day sounds like fun (if you’re totally into masochism. Once one realizes that for two millennia the Roman Catholic church has been the avowed enemy of progress, all progress, in all fields; religion, medicine, free will, freedom of thought (there’s a no-brainer, thinking thought could be controllable), name it.
For twenty years I taught at College Misericordia, run by the Sisters of Mercy (the oxymoron of all time). The student body was 90-95% R.C., and totally ignorant of any and all tenets of their religion. I took great pleasure in horrifying (and occasionally, terrifying) them. They sat there in fear and trembling waiting for the lightening bolt from an outraged Deity to come through the window and reduce me to a pile of “cremains.” (Hate that word!) It, need I add, never happened.
My favorite was when we got to the 14th century Great Schism when, at one point, there were three popes in Europe and I asked what American folk song it reminded them of. No answer, of course. Imagine the consternation after I sang the refrain of “Old Macdonald,” as in “Here a pope, there a pope, everywhere a pope pope.” They found it unfunny and scary.
I also took great glee in pointing out that in the same 14th century, when the Bubonic plague whipped out 50 to 75% of Europe’s population, the priests, after constantly assuring the people that in spite of the horrific hardships of medieval life there was the assured promise of a glorious eternal after-life, these same priests were the first to run for their lives. Baaaaaad Harry, and still no lightening bolt.

I tried to teach my students to leave their religious beliefs outside and accept all religions as valid. My success, or lack of, is not germane. They were totally unable (read unwilling) to accept the validity of any other religion.

In my youth, there existed an Index of what books they could read and what movies they could see. It also told them which movies they could NOT see; which books they could NOT read, on pain of possible excommunication. I think it no longer exists. I’ll bet it’s greatly missed.

You can not reason nor debate with these people. They do not think, because they have been taught consciously not to think. I’m not sure sin (as I understand it) exists, but I’m willing to make an exception in this case. The word is brainwashing; they, of course, vehemently deny it. ‘It’s God’s will”. Fight that.

As for your marital status…screw them. I made no friends at Misericordia (affectionately known as Misery) when I said I thought Roe v. Wade was intelligent legislation and that no government and definitely no religion (largely male dominated for the most part) should be allowed to dictate to women what they could do with their bodies. They’re probably saying prayers for the salvation of my soul (soul being, for me, as inexplicable as sin).

That’s enough for one epistle from the soap box

Stay well and stay silent (it will drive them nuts).

Lot’s of love.

Harry

P.S. Remember short men are not only to be pitied (or scorned, depending on ones mood) but they provide ample opportunity for looking down ones patrician nose. And that’s always fun!
It is a source of delight to have two fathers, and both who agree that this was a night of torture and insanity!

The Plan of God versus My Accomplishments

I'm still stewing over Luis' family, especially the remarks about God having had this all planned out since before the stars were formed. Oh... My... God... (no pun intended). I was thinking about this while driving home. Unfortunately, it seems to always be lurking in the back of my mind.

I worked my ass off to get to where I am now. And even when I got it, it wasn't easy. Not that anything worth having should be, but honestly, when someone tells me that this was all preordained, I feel like they are taking credit from me and handing it to God. What happened to "God helps those who help themselves"? Apparently, Luis' family does not agree with me. Luis doesn't agree with them, thank the gods.

Don't misunderstand me, in general I really found Stewart very sweet and likable. It was that comment that really made me crazy. I don't care if he is the most unbelievable right wing I-love-Bush guy. I don't care that he is pro-life. He is entitled to his opinions on these things, as much as I may not agree. But on the one hand, everything we do is preordained and all scripted in the time before the stars were formed. On the other, the thinking is to take away others' rights to choose the "wrong" decision - as they see it. So which is it? We are all drones doing what God figured out for us or we are all making our own decisions? You know, that silly freewill thing.
So does that mean that God preordained my having an abortion? Or did I just have a bad moment of exercising the free will that I don't have? Normally, that is. Oh, wait... maybe... just maybe... the Devil made me do it! Ah-ha! That is it! I should blame it on the Devil.

Then again, what I did was not a mistake. It was the best thing I have ever done for myself and so I take credit - full credit. All of the credit. That's right. I have no regrets about this. And not for nothing, I know I will have a lot more fun in hell. Those people certainly know how to live.

Let me in to the party!

Back to the issue. Which way do you want to have it? Pick ONE.

A.W.A.D. - Word Medley

I love words. It's something I gave up my career in software for. Every morning when I wake up I can't wait to begin exploring words and writing about them. I've been doing that for 14 years and wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

Having said that, there are times when I feel I have to be ready to feed this beast -- A.Word.A.Day -- week after week after week. It opens its hungry maw every Monday and I had better be ready with another serving of juicy, delicious words.

I do my best to come up with new recipes, new arrangements, new flavors. There are times, however, when I just have to reach into my grab-bag of loose words and offer them while I think of a new topic. It's one of those weeks.

Enjoy this medley of words while I get back to the word lab putting finishing touches to next week's material.
logy
PRONUNCIATION: (LO-gee)
MEANING: adjective: Lethargic, groggy

ETYMOLOGY: Perhaps from Dutch log (heavy)

prolix
PRONUNCIATION: (pro-LIKS, PRO-liks)
MEANING: adjective: Tediously wordy.

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin prolixus (extended, poured), from liquere (to flow), which is also the source of words such as liquid, liquor, licorice. Now you see the connection -- why consuming liquor makes people prolix.

cadastral
PRONUNCIATION: (kuh-DAS-truhl)
MEANING: adjective: Of or relating to a map or survey showing property lines, boundaries, etc.

ETYMOLOGY:From French cadastre (an official register of the details of real estate in an area, used in determining taxes), from Italian catastro, from Greek katastikhon (list, register), from kata stikhon (line by line).

corpulent
PRONUNCIATION: (KOR-pyuh-luhnt)
MEANING: adjective: Large, bulky, fat.

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin corpus (body). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kwrep- (body, form) that is also the source of corps, corpse, corporation, corset, corsage, and leprechaun.

mythologem
PRONUNCIATION: (mi-THOL-uh-jem)
MEANING: noun: A basic theme of a myth, for example, revenge, honor, betrayal, etc.

ETYMOLOGY: From Greek mythologema (mythical narrative), from mythologein (to tell mythical tales), from mythos (myth) + -logos (word or speech).

Hiking the Pacific Trail Part VIII

Hi all-

9/22-9/29
Days hiked: 7
Days off: 1
Miles hiked this section: 120
Total PCT miles hiked: 1504
Total PCT miles left to hike: 1159
Pounds lost: 23

This next section, I'll cross over the halfway point in my hike! I have 450 miles left to go to get to Soda Springs, and then 709 miles of Southern California (the desert section) left to do next April and May. It amazes me when I realize that most thruhikers will have finished all 2663 miles of the trail by now, in one continuous hike. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

I started out from Ashland, heading south. It feels different heading south -- feels like I'm going the wrong way. The sun is always in my face, since it's a little bit south in the sky at this time of the year. The only long distance hikers still on the trail this far south from Canada are, like me, making up sections that they decided to skip because of the smoke and wildfires. I've only met 3 others doing this, and a few section hikers. A small handful of hunters. That's it for company. It's a very different experience from up north.

I've seen two small black bears since leaving Ashland, a few falcons gliding on the thermals, some non-poisonous snakes, and lots of deer and grouse. The black bear sightings were cool. I got to within 15 feet or so before they realized that I was there and ran off into the woods. I've been hearing elk bugling out in the woods, as I walk during the day. At first I thought that some particularly untalented young kid had brought a trumpet into the woods and was practicing trying to blow a single wavering note. Eventually a pattern emerged, and I realized that the sound wasn't coming from just one location...so it had to be elk. It was cool.Crossing over into northern California, I saw in the border register that my friend Billy Goat had signed in just a few hours ahead of me, going south. I managed to catch up to him by the next morning, and we hiked together for a while, so I had a little company.

I love the northern CA terrain -- very dry, open and silty/dusty trail for the most part, lots of ridge walks and great views. There hasn't been too much drastic elevation gain or loss each day, so I'm managing to do 20+ miles a day without much problem. The only downside is that many of the water sources listed in my guidebook are dry by this time in the season, but I don't know which ones until I get there. This was a challenge on the day I walked the 16 miles into Etna, CA (where I am now, taking a day off). There was a flowing water source about 2 miles into my hike, but I didn't tank up because the guidebook said I'd have 4 more water sources before I hit the Etna road. Lies! They were all dry.

So I arrived at the road dehydrated and exhausted, facing a 15 mile road walk into town if I didn't get a hitch into town. I ended up getting a ride like I always do, but it took almost two hours before someone came along who was going toward Etna.

It was a little scary to be so thirsty, but everything worked out like it always does. After the first 65 miles, the PCT was routed right through Seiad Valley, a tiny little town with a post office, cafe and general store. The road that ran through the town was lined with blackberry bushes, all of which were loaded with ripe berries. They tasted like coconut, they were so sweet. I ate so many that by the time I sat down at the Seiad Cafe with my fingers stained purple and my legs bloodied by the brambles, I couldn't bear the thought of eating. The berries were worth the scratches. I couldn't understand why the locals hadn't picked the bushes clean. There were clusters of berries that had dehydrated right on the vine. Someone could have made a fortune if they bagged them and sold them as dried fruit.

The hike between Seiad Valley and Etna was hot and especially dry, with a small wildfire burning only two miles from the trail as I hiked out of the valley. It was super-smoky for about 20 miles, but it tapered off once I got closer to Etna. At least the sunsets were spectacular because of the smoke pall. The upside of the trail being dusty is that I can clearly see all kinds of animal tracks in the trail bed.

I followed a set of bear tracks that were so clearly imprinted in the dust that I could see the crevices in the skin of the rear paws. I got some great pictures of the tracks, and I eventually followed them to the bear itself. No cougar tracks yet. I'm still patiently waiting to see a cougar.

My husband Kevin is coming home this Wednesday, and he's meeting me at my next trail town. We'll hike together from Castella to Burney, about 83 miles. I'm so excited to be reunited with him, and for him to experience what I've been doing all summer.

Until next time...
Dawn

Countdown

Lit up with anticipation
We arrive at the launching site
The sky is still dark, nearing dawn
On the Florida coastline

Circling choppers slash the night
With roving searchlight beams
This magic day when super-science
Mingles with the bright stuff of dreams

Floodlit in the hazy distance
The star of this unearthly show
Venting vapours, like the breath
Of a sleeping white dragon

Crackling speakers, voices tense
Resume the final count
All systems check, T minus nine
As the sun and the drama start to mount

The air is charged
A humid, motionless mass
The crowds and the cameras
The cars full of spectators pass

Excitement so thick you could cut it with a knife
Technology... high, on the leading edge of life
The earth beneath us starts to tremble
With the spreading of a low black cloud

A thunderous roar shakes the air
Like the whole world exploding
Scorching blast of golden fire
As it slowly leaves the ground

Tears away with a mighty force
The air is shattered by the awesome sound
Like a pillar of cloud
The smoke lingers high in the air

In fascination
With the eyes of the world
We stare...

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Red Barchetta

My uncle has a country place
That no one knows about
He says it used to be a farm
Before the Motor Law

And on Sundays I elude the eyes
And hop the Turbine Freight
To far outside the Wire
Where my white-haired uncle waits

Jump to the ground
As the Turbo slows to cross the borderline
Run like the wind
As excitement shivers up and down my spine

Down in his barn
My uncle preserved for me an old machine
For fifty odd years
To keep it as new has been his dearest dream

I strip away the old debris
That hides a shining car
A brilliant red Barchetta
From a better vanished time

I fire up the willing engine
Responding with a roar
Tires spitting gravel
I commit my weekly crime

WindIn my hair
Shifting and drifting
Mechanical music
Adrenaline surge...

Well-weathered leather
Hot metal and oil
The scented country air
Sunlight on chrome

The blur of the landscape
Every nerve aware
Suddenly ahead of me
Across the mountainside

A gleaming alloy air car
Shoots towards me, two lanes wide
I spin around with shrieking tires
To run the deadly race

Go screaming through the valley
As another joins the chase
Drive like the wind
Straining the limits of machine and man

Laughing out loud with fear and hope
I've got a desperate plan
At the one-lane bridge
I leave the giants stranded at the riverside

Race back to the farm
To dream with my uncle at the fireside...

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

A.W.A.D. - Amalgam of Two Other Words

A portmanteau is a blend -- a word formed by combining two (or more) words. Lewis Carroll gave this name to such a word in "Through the Looking-Glass". As Humpty Dumpty explained to Alice, "You see it's like a portmanteau -- there are two meanings packed up into one word." A portmanteau is a travel bag that opens into two hinged compartments.

Carroll himself coined some fine portmanteaux such as chortle (chuckle + snort), and slithy (slimy + lithe). We have been using this fusion technique to coin names for countries: Tanzania (Tanganyika + Zanzibar), celebrities: Brangelina (Brad Pitt + Angelina Jolie), products: camcorder (camera + recorder), and beyond.

This week we'll see five words, each of which is an amalgam of two other words.

advertorial
PRONUNCIATION: (ad-vuhr-TOR-ee-uhl)
MEANING: noun: A newspaper or magazine ad resembling editorial content in style and layout.

ETYMOLOGY: Blend of advertisement + editorial. The radio/television equivalent of an advertorial is another blend word, infomercial: information + commercial.

cultivar
PRONUNCIATION: (KUHL-tuh-var)
MEANING: noun: A variety of plant that has been produced by selective breeding. A cultivar is developed for specific attributes and retains those attributes in further propagation.

ETYMOLOGY: Blend of cultivation + variety.

exurb
PRONUNCIATION: (EK-suhrb)
MEANING: noun: A residential area outside a city and beyond its suburbs, typically inhabited by well-to-do families.

ETYMOLOGY: A blend of ex- + suburb.

spokesmodel
PRONUNCIATION: (SPOKS-modl)
MEANING: noun: A model who acts as a spokesperson for a product or organization.

ETYMOLOGY: A blend of spokesman + model.

rollick
PRONUNCIATION: (ROL-ik)
MEANING: verb intr. To move or act in a playful, carefree manner.

ETYMOLOGY: Probably a blend of romp + frolic.

Natural Science

[1. Tide Pools]

When the ebbing tide retreats
Along the rocky shoreline
It leaves a trail of tidal pools
In a short-lived galaxy

Each microcosmic planet
A complete society
A simple kind mirror
To reflect upon our own

All the busy little creatures
Chasing out their destinies
Living in their pools
They soon forget about the sea...

Wheels within wheels in a spiral array
A pattern so grand and complex
Time after time we lose sight of the way
Our causes can't see their effects

[2. Hyperspace]

A quantum leap forward
In time and in space
The universe learned to expand
The mess and the magic

Triumphant and tragic
A mechanized world out of hand
Computerized clinic
For superior cynics

Who dance to a synthetic band
In their own image
Their world is fashioned
No wonder they don't understand

[3. Permanent Waves]

Science, like nature
Must also be tamed
With a view towards its preservation
Given the same

State of integrity
It will surely serve us well
Art as expression
Not as market campaigns

Will still capture our imaginations
Given the same
State of integrity
It will surely help us along

The most endangered species
The honest man
Will still survive annihilation
Forming a world

State of integrity
Sensitive, open and strong
Wave after wave will flow with the tide
And bury the world as it does

Tide after tide will flow and recede
Leaving life to go on as it was...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The Trees

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light

But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream 'Oppression!'
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light'

Now there's no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw

Monday, 17 November 2008

Bastille Day

There's no bread, let them eat cake
There's no end to what they'll take
Flaunt the fruits of noble birth
Wash the salt into the earth

But they're marching to Bastille Day
La guillotine will claim her bloody prize
Free the dungeons of the innocent
The king will kneel and let his kingdom rise

Bloodstained velvet, dirty lace
Naked fear on every face
See them bow their heads to die
As we would bow as they rode by

And we're marching to Bastille Day
La guillotine will claim her bloody prize
Sing, oh choirs of cacophony
The king has kneeled, to let his kingdom rise

Lessons taught but never learned
All around us anger burns
Guide the future by the past
Long ago the mould was cast

For they marched up to Bastille Day
La guillotine claimed her bloody prize
Hear the echoes of the centuries
Power isn't all that money buys

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Don't Know Why

I waited 'til I saw the sun
I don't know why I didn't come
I left you by the house of fun
I don't know why I didn't come
I don't know why I didn't come

When I saw the break of day
I wished that I could fly away
Instead of kneeling in the sand
Catching teardrops in my hand

My heart is drenched in wine
But you'll be on my mind
Forever

Out across the endless sea
I would die in ecstacy
But I'll be a bag of bones
Driving down the road alone

My heart is drenched in wine
But you'll be on my mind
Forever

Something has to make you run
I don't know why I didn't come
I feel as empty as a drum
I don't know why I didn't come
I don't know why I didn't come
I don't know why I didn't come

Taking the Fun Out of Dysfunctional

Where my mother's family made huge strides forward this weekend, I realised how lucky we are to have Luis as he is. His family is... well... I just don't know. Staggeringly religious. Enormously right-wing conservatives that make the conservative people I know raging liberals. It was an educational and scary evening.

Anna and Kirk were the first to get here this afternoon and it is always a pleasure and treat to see them. We were chatting about different things when Luis' and Anna's father, Luis Augusto, came up... that must have been around 1630. He and his siblings, Lucia, Isabel and Iggy, had gone into NYC Friday night and yesterday and when he got in he took a nap. He was very late for his nap - he usually takes it around 1230 and gets up around 1400 but this time he got in later than his wake up time.

When he came up we started a new conversation. We were rolling along with that when Iggy came with Lucia, Gustavo and Stewart. Lucia is Luis' and Anna's aunt, Gustavo is her husband and Iggy is Luis' and Anna's uncle. Stewart is their uncle, too, but he is married to Isabel, who is Luis Augusto's brother. Isabel went to church because they have an 0830 flight back and can't get to church this morning.

Iggy and Luis Augusto are usually quick to get into a pissing contest, and almost always over how well they know the church services and/or stuff from the Bible. Please shoot me now. The relationship is quite something to see in action. No matter how normal any conversation starts out, at some point it deteriorates into religion. And I have to say Anna warned us how this would go - it would begin as a discussion about politics, and it is a large part of the culture to get into political debates. It is okay for me to be liberal but as long as I never, ever admit to being pro-choice, all will be forgiven.

The conversation will turn to religion and then I should withdraw, as we will never see eye-to-eye on this. OK. I get that. Ultra-religious people hate Roe v. Wade and will do anything to overturn it. It is a not-for-discussion area.

It is just after 0400 and I am not functioning well at this time... not to mention I have been up since 0600 yesterday. I will get to bed soon. Anyway, this may not be the most linear post I have up.

Iggy looks a lot like Luis A. They both have similar features, and amazingly enough, Luis A. is the tallest of them, which makes Iggy around my height. A little weird, I grant you. I have a 6' biological father and a 6'4" father and his brother is 6'7". I am unaccustomed to short men. Even most of the men I deal with the most at work are tall. I am more comfortable looking up at men than making eye contact at my level! Lucia is a pleasantly plump, very dark haired woman who is in the age range of her siblings, but shorter and younger looking. Isabel, who goes by "la Nena", is more like a nun, is taller but always has a harsh, disapproving look. I won't say I helped by wearing a penticle (she knows what the symbol is but has no idea what it stands for and could care less. She has a Ph.D in Christianity (proof that one can be a doctor without a shred of medical knowledge) and is very disapproving of all other religions. Stewart is tall and has the soft twang of a southern state (he is from Georgia originally) and wears suspenders. He is a very sweet man and was a pleasure with whom to speak. Gustavo is shorter than all of the men (and my Luis the tallest) and has a high-pitched, almost pip-squeak voice. I wish someone had warned me because the first time he spoke I almost laughed.

At first when Iggy returned with La Nena, the conversation moved along nicely but at some point after the political discussion, the toipc turned to religion. Maybe I am not thrilled about living with Luis A. but I will say that he is very, very liberal in comparison to his three siblings. He is a huge advocate of keeping government and religion separate - a beautiful thing. The rest all chimed in about how the government should allow religion to have a place in there, almost entirely on the basis of overturning the abortion laws. They were getting into a huge discussion about this and I hated it - taking away a person's right to make their own decisions because you want to save them from burning in hell for all eternity (I'm not kidding) - not OK. If people are supposed to make their own decisions, then free will is the key to it. These people all want to take that most basic of rights away.

I would never be one to say anything about the dictates of god (or God) but I do know that free will is a huge part of the religion and so is the biggest key to this. What a nerve to want to take that away. The conversation was so distasteful that I left the room and went into the kitchen. In the kitchen was Anna, Kirk and Luis and Anna was talking about finding a way to steer the conversation away from this subject. We were unable to find a way to do it but it suddenly resolved itself - much to our relief!

But it came up throughout the evening, such gems as "you're being an HR Manager and an EMT was preordaned before the stars were created in heaven". Yowza. So not only do I not get credit for making my own success but it was never an option for me to be or do anything else. What an amazing thing. I did not know what to say and even found myself smiling and nodding. So not like me. Luis had to admit that I was very well-behaved - it is not in my nature to let things like that pass.

We went to the restaurant at 2145 and we had a short wait and we would have had a better table with more space but Iggy really was short and not just a little out-of-line with the hostess. We were seated faster but the table was a little too cozy for me - how stupid to be so awful to the person seating you! I apolised for his behaviour to her.

While we were waiting for the table, La Nena asked me why we are not married. I said I couldn't care less and as far as I was concerned, I didn't care what the government thought. I also have little desire to take the name Gomez and threw that in. She asked if Luis wanted to get married and I said no, he was happy with our current status. I was surprised she did not comment on religion or our lack of children. I suspect that had there been enough time, she would have asked.

She did say that I had sent her an e-mail asking her to talk Luis into marrying me. I said that is unlikely, since I have never been hung up on that.

Oy vey.

When the night was over and done, and his father gone to bed, I hugged Luis and said, "Yours is definitely a only-in-small-doses family." Luis laughed at that.

I'm not kidding, though, and Luis understands and agrees that they are a little hard to take.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

The Virtue Song

I ran along the highway and looked under all the trees
I crawled through every hither and yon and blistered both me knees
I even went to chapel and looked under every pew
It's surely gone bejeezus and I don't know what to do

Won't somebody help me look for it
We'll search until the dawn
For it seems I've lost me virtue
And I don't know where it's gone

Me father says it's precious and to guard it with me life
To save it up and give it away to the man who calls me wife
He says I daren't sell it, it's a mortal sin they say
So now that I've lost it, surely there'll be hell to pay

Won't somebody help me look for it
We'll search until the dawn
For it seems I've lost me virtue
And I don't know where it's gone

My mother says a good girl keeps it tight between her thighs
But nevertheless, it has no colour, shape or even size!
I looked and looked for hours there but nothing could be found
So I guess I must have dropped it and it's some here around (here, boy!)

Won't somebody help me look for it
We'll search until the dawn
For it seems I've lost me virtue
And I don't know where it's gone

Now, darling Tom, the miller's son, me special friend is he
He listened to me dreadful tale with heartfelt sympathy
Tonight he says we'll find it if I meet him at the brook
For he's got this special tool, you see - and it knows just where to look!

Won't somebody help me look for it
We'll search until the dawn
For it seems I've lost me virtue
And I don't know where it's gone

Won't somebody help me look for it
We'll search until the dawn
For it seems I've lost me virtue
And I don't know where it's gone
Gone, gone - it's surely gone!

Friday, 14 November 2008

The Catholic Church in the 14th Century

I'm reading a really great book entitled A Distant Mirror. It is a book about the 14th century written by Barbara Tuchman and highly recommended to me by my father. I'm into the second chapter and enjoying it thoroughly. Here is an interesting paragraph from it:

"Money could buy any kind of dispensations to legitimize children, of which the majority were those of preists and prelates;* to divide a corpse for the favoured custom of burial in two or more places; to permit nuns to keep two maids; to permit a converted Jew to visit his unconverted parents; to marry within the permitted degree of consanguinity (with a sliding scale of fees with the second, third and fourth degrees); to trade with the infidel Moslem (with a fee required for each ship on a scale according to cargo); to received stolen goods up to a specific value. The collection and accounting of all these sums, largely handled through Italian bankers, made the physical counting of cash a common sight in the papal palace. Whenever he entered there, reported Alvar Pelayo, a Spanish official in Curia, "I found brokers and clergy in reckoning the money which lay in heaps before them."

* Out of 614 grants for legitimacy 1342-43, 484 were to members of the clergy.

Well, that certainly says "heaps", doesn't it! That little tidbit at the bottom made it even more priceless. I have never been a fan of organised religion and especially Catholicism. Christianity is bad enough and Cathoicism is that much worse. Which should make this weekend very interesting... Luis' family is here for his father's 70th birthday. The Roman Catholic cavalry has arrived. His uncle goes to church every single day. That is not piousness, that is guilt. Or just weirdness. Take your pick.

His one aunt I never met and don't know much about her. On the other hand, his other aunt has a PhD in Christianity. I get that this is a doctorate, but one doesn't think of non-medical doctors. And she is not a doctor. She's a person giving into all kinds of ideas that are bad - like being pro-life instead of pro-choice. I think that is bad. I suspect somewhere in there is the ideal that people who are not married should be celebate. Uh... no. Not so much. And so completely unrealistic.

Tell me this is not too scary. To me it is. And I am not going to not wear my penticle because these folks don't get it or think that I am a devil-worshipper.

Well, I'm the wicked witch at work. Why not at home?

Jewels

Come my fine gentles and listen to me
I'll sing you a song that will fill you with glee
About a young maiden who wed in the fall
She married a man who had no jewels at all

No jewels at all, no jewels at all
She married a man who had no jewels at all

The night of the wedding she leapt into bed
Aware of the venture that may lay ahead
She reached for her husband, he was so small
She reached for his jewels, he had no jewels at all

No jewels at all, no jewels at all
She married a man who had no jewels at all

"Oh, mother, oh, mother, oh, what shall I do?
I've married a man who is unable to woo.
For many long years I avoided the call
Now I've married a man who has no jewels at all."

No jewels at all, no jewels at all
She married a man who had no jewels at all

"Oh, daughter, oh, daughter, now don't feel so sad.
I had the same trouble with your dear old dad.
There's a fine young jeweler who will answer the call
Of the wife of a man who has no jewels at all."

No jewels at all, no jewels at all
She married a man who had no jewels at all

Now the daughter she followed her mother's advice
And found the proceedings exceedingly nice
And a bouncing young baby was born in the fall
To the wife of a man with no jewels at all

No jewels at all, no jewels at all
She married a man who had no jewels at all

No jewels at all, no jewels at all
She married a man who had no jewels at all

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Ball of Revel Grove

Singin' a balls to your partner
Backs against the wall
If you cannot score at Revel Grove
You cannot score at all

This laddy here
Well, a ballin' he did go
He couldn't find a partner
Now his balls are indigo

Singin' a balls to your partner
Backs against the wall
If you cannot score at Revel Grove
You cannot score at all

This guy went a ballin'
And he impressed all the class
When he showed off his equipment
It was made of brass

Singin' a balls to your partner
Backs against the wall
If you cannot score at Revel Grove
You cannot score at all

This guy went a ballin'
And he was all the talk
For when he was finished
He could hardly walk

Singin' a balls to your partner
Backs against the wall
If you cannot score at Revel Grove
You cannot score at all

They swing when he walks
But he doesn't like to gloat
Ask him to commit
And they leap into his throat

Singin' a balls to your partner
Backs against the wall
If you cannot score at Revel Grove
You cannot score at all

This guy went a ballin'
And he was in rare form
He couldn't fit his equipment
Because it was enorm!

Singin' a balls to your partner
Backs against the wall
If you cannot score at Revel Grove
You cannot score at all

He bred a shellfish and horse
And the ladies were amazed
At the size
Of his Quahog-neighs

Singin' a balls to your partner
Backs against the wall
If you cannot score at Revel Grove
You cannot score at all

Never run with scissors
When a ballin' you do go
Unless you want your basses
To sound like sopranos

Singin' a balls to your partner
Backs against the wall
If you cannot score at Revel Grove
You cannot score at all

Ballin' made him glum
Because he left too soon
Now his little plums
Resemble prunes

Singin' a balls to your partner
Backs against the wall
If you cannot score at Revel Grove
You cannor score at all

He came home from ballin'
In pain beyond belief
For he found himself a partner
But she used her teeth!

Singin' a balls to your partner
Backs against the wall
If you cannot score at Revel Grove
You cannor score at all...

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

A.W.A.D. - Uncommon Prepositions

Prepositions don't get much respect. Nouns, verbs, adjectives... those are the words we usually pay attention to. Who has ever looked up in a thesaurus to find a better preposition? Who has complimented an author on his choice of prepositions? They might as well be invisible.

Yet prepositions are some of the most important parts of the sentence. They work to connect various parts. And if you have any doubt about the role or importance of these hard-working nuts and bolts of a language, ask anyone who has tried to learn a new language. Prepositions are among the hardest to master.

Literally speaking, a preposition is something that is positioned before a noun. These are little words, such as in, to, of, up, for, etc., though they are not always a single syllable. There are some pretty long ones: amongst, concerning, notwithstanding. And there are some fancy prepositions (contra, cum, a la, and so on). This week we'll see some of the uncommon prepositions, words that tell the nouns: "Me first!"

A note about ending a sentence with a preposition. Some believe there's something wrong with that. It's a myth. One can find sentences ending with preps in the lines of some of the finest writers in history: Chaucer, Swift, Kipling, Shakespeare and so on. "We are such stuff as dreams are made on" -- Try rephrasing that line from The Tempest. See what inelegant glob results. This canard about no-prepositions-at-the-end belongs in the same dustbin as "Thou shalt not split an infinitive."

So the next time people fault you for ending a sentence with a preposition, ask them: "What are you talking about?"

pace
PRONUNCIATION: (PAY-see, PAH-chay, PAH-kay)
MEANING: With due respect to. (used to express polite disagreement)

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin pace (in peace), from pax (peace). Ultimately from the Indo-European root pag-/pak- (to fasten) that is also the source of peace, pacify, pact, travel, compact, pagan, and peasant.

maugre or mauger
PRONUNCIATION: (MAW-guhr)
MEANING: In spite of.

ETYMOLOGY: From Old French malgre (ill will), from mal- (bad) + gre (pleasure, grace), from Latin gratum (pleasing).

ere
PRONUNCIATION: (air)
MEANING: preposition, conjunction: Before (earlier in time)

ETYMOLOGY: From Old English aer (earlier). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ayer- (day, morning) that is also the source of early and erst (as in erstwhile).

circa
PRONUNCIATION: (SUHR-kuh)
MEANING: Approximately.

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin circa (around, about), from circus (circle), from Greek kirkos. Ultimately from the Indo-European root sker- (to turn or bend) which is also the source of other words such as ranch, rank, shrink, circle, crisp, search, ring, curb, ridge, and curve.

chez
PRONUNCIATION: (shay)
MEANING: At the place of (for example, at the home of, business of, etc.)

ETYMOLOGY: From French chez, from Latin casa (cottage). The word is often used in the names of restaurants, for example, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California.

All For A Snog

Well, it's all for a snog, A teeny, tiny snog
Please put me flat on my back-O
Before I begin, he is done and turning in
So across my little village I do wander...

I went to the mill, the jolly, jolly mill
And begged my little favour of the miller
He could not grind y corn, for his stone it was too worn
And his wheel was lookin' out for better weather

Well, it's all for a snog, A teeny, tiny snog
Please put me flat on my back-O
Before I begin, he is done and turning in
So across my little village I do wander...

I went to the church, the jolly, jolly church
And begged my little favour of the preacher
His sermon made me wilt,
But his sacriment was spilt
And his blessing was lookin' out for better weather

And, it's all for a snog, A teeny, tiny snog
Please put me flat on my back-O
Before I begin, he is done and turning in
So across my little village I do wander...

I went to the barn, the jolly, jolly barn
To beg a little favour of the potter
His skill it made me sigh,
But his clay it made me dry,
And his kiln was lookin' out for better weather

Well, it's all for a snog, A teeny, tiny snog
Please put me flat on my back-O
Before I begin, he is done and turning in
So across my little village I do wander...

I'm sick to me heart, why'd I ever start?
My search to find a man; it's a wonder
There's nothing here at all
Not large or even small
I think my orientation in a blunder

Well, it's all for a snog, A teeny, tiny snog
I've had millers, preachers and potters
There's not a man around - can do the job I've found
So now I'll go a-flirtin' with their daughters!

Roe and Boston Legal

I've rarely had occasion to disagree with Boston Legal, but this time I definitely not okay with their opinions here. Wel, until the end. Then Alan Shore said a lot of good points to support Roe v. Wade. I was relieved.

The episode opened up with a 15-year-old girl who hired Alan Shore to get her a judicial bypass to overrule her mother's not giving parental consent to have an abortion. Alan agreed to take it when Denny Crane said something about helping the girl to "burn in hell forever". Good for him! I can't believe anyone would say such a bizarre thing.

Well, when Alan went to Shirley to have her on the case, she was not interested in doing it. She said that she is a parent and knows that once down this road, it haunts you forever. I almost launched myself off of the couch. I am one of many women who has been down this road, and it was the best thing I ever did for myself and for a kid, bar none. I am hugely prochoice for a reason. I hated the idea of having children and at 19 I was not going to sell my life cheap and saddle myself with a baby.

I have made many, many decisions that I wondered about or agonised over but this wasn't one of them. I have always known what I would do if the situation came up. I never had a doubt and had considered this before I became sexually active. And the circumstances were not such that I have ever used a surgical procedure as a means of birth control. I was on the pill at the time, but had received upsetting news and had forgotten my pill for three nights. Well... that is all it took. Since then, it has never come up or been an issue.

I thought I was going to scream when Denny told Alan that people hold on to Roe v. Wade to convince themselves that this is the right thing to do - have done - when faced with their own decision. Again I disagree. I never give this much thought because it has never been an issue to me. And I don't say "fetus" or "procedure" to make it sound pretty or more clinical and less a criminal act on some level. I have no caring for what religions dictate and less for sugarcoating anything. I say "baby" and "abortion" quite easily!

So here it is. One of the very few things on which we disagree!

Do as you will and do what is right for you, but don't take away my right to choose.

Drug

Yes, drug.

What are you thinking when you read that word? Don't tell me, let me guess... marijuana. Cocaine. Meth amphitamines. Herione? How about pills? Hydrocodone? Oxycontin? Something in a the 'pams? Lorazipam, Clomidapam? Possibly lithium?

I know what you weren't thinking. Drug - the past tense of drag.

I bet you didn't know that. Neither did I until I worked at USII and it showed up in a disciplinary report. Ye gods. "So-and-so drug a pallet across the warehouse..." Say what? Yes, that's right. Apparently the past tense taught in school, dragged, is not actually correct. Whoops. How did I miss that?

This was a supervisor.

How does anyone learn such appalling language skills? How does this go on? Shouldn't someone hear this and say something? I managed to not say anything, biting holes in my tongue all the while. It was a physical effort. Not to mention the first time I read the report I had to close my office door so that someone wouldn't walk by and think I needed oxygen!

The fact is that Americans speak and write poorly. It is more common to poor skills in this area than not. And it scares me. Look at how many people who can't write, can't speak properly, who run companies, teach people, get into office. Yikes! Maybe I should not pay attention to it or I should tune it out, but I really can't. I can spend half of a five minute conversation correcting the improperly used words and pronunciations.

I know I can speak. I know I can write. But I see how many cannot. It is disheartening.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The Drummer Girl

Something for Veterans - thank you!

I was brought up in Dublin Town and when I was sixteen
I ran away to seek me pay and a soldier I became

With me fine cap and feathers, likewise me rattle and drum
They learned me to play upon the ra-ba-da-ba-dum
With a me gentle waist so slender, me finger long and small
To play upon the ra-ba-dum the best of them all

So boldly did I fight me boys, although I'm but a lass
I fought so long, I fought so hard I liked them in the --
Buttoning up me trousers, twas often did I smile
To think I lay with a tousand men and a maiden all the while

With me fine cap and feathers, likewise me rattle and drum
They learned me to play upon the ra-ba-da-ba-dum
With a me gentle waist so slender, me finger long and small
To play upon the ra-ba-dum the best of them all


They never found me secret out until this very hour
When they sent me off to London to be sentry o'er the Tower
When a young girl fell in love with me and found out I was a maid
She ran unto me captain and me secret she betrayed

With me fine cap and feathers, likewise me rattle and drum
They learned me to play upon the ra-ba-da-ba-dum
With a me gentle waist so slender, me finger long and small
To play upon the ra-ba-dum the best of them all


He reached into me tunic and he felt that it was true
"Tis a shame," said he, "To lose a pretty drummer boy like you."
So off to church I went with him; his wife I did become
Now he's the one who bangs upon my ra-ba-da-ba-dum.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Trooper

A maid and her mother lived under the hill
Nonny Nonny Nonny No
They had good ale and beer for to sell
Nonny No, Nonny No, Nonny Nonny Nonny No

There was a trooper, came riding by
Nonny Nonny Nonny No
He called for ale so plentiful
Nonny No, Nonny No, Nonny Nonny Nonny No

When one pot was out he called for another
Nonny Nonny Nonny No
He kissed the daughter before the mother
Nonny No, Nonny No, Nonny Nonny Nonny No

When night time came, they went to bed
Nonny Nonny Nonny No
It was with the mother's own consent
Nonny No, Nonny No, Nonny Nonny Nonny No

What is this, quoth she, so stiff and warm?
Nonny Nonny Nonny No
'Tis but my horse, he'll do you no harm
Nonny No, Nonny No, Nonny Nonny Nonny No

What is this, quoth he; quoth she "Tis a well
Nonny Nonny Nonny No
Where that your horse can drink his fill
Nonny No, Nonny No, Nonny Nonny Nonny No

But what if my horse should chance slip in?
Nonny Nonny Nonny No
Grab hold of the grass growing round the brim
Nonny No, Nonny No, Nonny Nonny Nonny No

But what if my horse strays 'round the bend?
Nonny Nonny Nonny No
Well, that is an exit only, friend!
Nonny No, Nonny No, Nonny Nonny Nonny... maybe!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Grace

Read this Web site with a post called "Grace". It will be worth it, believe me.

http://lauriekendrick.wordpress.com/

I have said all the things that she did but at separate times. I've been unemployed and felt the loser logo hanging over my head. I have been at the lowest point especially when without employment, and I know that feeling all too well. I have said more than once that the strange political fervor that I see is so foriegn to me. She wonders what people think Obama will do for them; I wonder why my coworker had a total meltdown over the outcome of the presidential election. Did a Democrat run over his dog?

I certainly agree that Obama has no chance of fixing all of the issues. No one can. And I don't know that he can fix anything. I don't know if his wife is the bigot that everyone says she is. I can't believe anyone when it comes to statements about McCain or Obama because there is much more misinformation than information floating around out there. I do think that Palin was a pity-vote, a minority answer to Obama's semi-minority status (he is half African American, not wholly), and a religious mental midget with her own agenda. And she has to give back the wardrobe.

Amusingly.

However, the McCain platform was one I could not be on board with. Obama is going to raise taxes? Well, so what? It is not as though it will be a separate bill that we will get in the mail; it will be in the groceries, in the fuel, in the frivolous things that we buy. It will come out of my paycheck. I don't have an issue with that. I don't have any expectation that my taxes will do anything other than go up. Why should anyone else have an expectation that theirs won't?

I don't want to see the wealthy (by whatever line or measure a person is deemed to be wealthy) get hit with some extra tax. How is that fair? Why should anyone be made to feel less of themselves or penalised or as a pariah for earning more money? Do you think that those people did not work their asses off to get to the level of income they [should] enjoy? Why isn't the taxation process just an even percentage across the board?

Let's say 40% aggragate tax for all, with one exception. Just one:

If your annual income is under the poverty level plus $2,000, you pay 30% in taxes. Maybe that is what the system should have. Luis thinks he paid 26% in federal or 43% aggragate taxes. That's rather high, but there it is. Of course, he is in a much higher tax bracket than I am. But I hate the penalisation of wealthy while turning around and offering weird incentives.

How'd I get off on this tangent?

Well, read that. It is worth it!

Weight Loss and A Night Out

Yesterday was some day!

I got up around 0630, watched a bit of telly with the main man, then got up at 0905 and showered fast. I was just getting ready to get out the door when Greg called. I love him but I couldn't get him off the phone! I raced over to the chiropractor, was massaged, then twisted into a pretzel. I ran out of there and headed to my parents' house.

We had breakfast and then went visit Ma in St. Joseph's Hospital. I'm not crazy about religious hospitals or any place run by one religious group and frightningly enough, there is a crucifix on the wall.. because that is what I want to look at when I am in a hospital room... a dead guy nailed to a cross. Uh-huh. There is faith and there is positive thinking and then... a crucifix. This doesn't seem weird, negative and just a little depressing?

Well, anyway, despite the horror of seeing crucifixes on the walls in every room, it seems to be a pretty okay hospital. The rooms could use a paint job, but the facility itself is pretty well-run, although they don't know us and we don't know them (hospitals will treat you differently when you've been there before). The meals are an issue - they aren't trained to give her a lot of skim milk, which we have the staff at Lakeview and Morristown very well trained.

But that is not the major part of this post.

Ray and I left the hospital in the rain around 1320, stopped to pick up some Amaretto creamer for Ray's coffee, and then headed over to the Hanes Outlet to find him a pair of pants. I was not planning to get any pants or anything else, but I was curious about the size of pants I might fit in... the scale shocked me on Thursday morning -- or maybe Friday morning -- by telling me I weighed in at 166.5lbs. I wasn't sure I was reading it correctly. The lowest I'd seen it was 177.

I checked it again and got the same weight... YAHOO!

So we had Ray's waist measured first. He showed as having a 54" waist. I didn't want to tell him when he asked what it was. I asked if he was sure he wanted to know. Fortunately, he tried on 54" waist pants and it was too big. Oh, thank the gods. He is between a 50" and 52" - jeans are 50", pants are around 52" but he needs a belt (which we will get this coming Saturday, since I completely forgot about that and so did he.

He went into the trying room with his 54s and I had grabbed a pair of 16 mediums (I was a size 20). I figured that might be right. I took my jeans off, pulled the 16s on and... hmmm. Comfortable, yes... but... well... I could pull 'em right off. That is, pull them off without unbuttoning and unzipping it. Hmmm.

No. It couldn't be...

OK. I went out and grabbed a couple more pants for Ray to try and then got myself a 16 petite and a 14 medioum. Ray disappeared into the mens area, and I found a stall. I pulled off my jeans, and tried on one pair (I did not look at the ticket on purpose). They were a teeny bit tight around the middle (and if I lose another two to three pounds more, that will not be tight any longer), and long enough and fit nicely around the butt.

I looked: size... drum roll, please... 14!

I did try on the petites, but I now what makes a petite. Short legs. The legs were like capris, I style I find worthless in any fashion. The waist was loose like the other pair. So petites are like fat pants with 4" shorter legs!

I came out smiling. Let me rephrase that. I came out SMILING!

Ray was not having so good a time. I lost weight and he found it. Not so much fun, but like me, Ray is great at laughing at himself. That is always a great trait. Most people take themselves WAY too seriously!

So I ended up buying three pairs of pants and one pair of Crocs. I like them a lot. Very comfortable. I think I will buy a couple more pairs with the liner sock in different colours. At Hanes they are $40 a pair. The pants are $24.90 a pair, an unbeatable price. The last time I bought pants they were $20.00 a pair. Rats... I'm down three sizes but the pants went up!

Pants...

(That won't make any sense unless you're British and know that for a while saying, "Pants!" is like saying "damn" or "shit". Now, does it make sense?)

I came home and relaxed for a bit before getting dressed for our dinner reservation at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Ever eat there? Save up your sheckels and go. The food is so worth it. It comes out on a sizzling plate that is around 500 degrees F and it is the best meat you will ever eat. Ray had filet mignon, Luis had lobster and I had lamb chops. That is not my usual choice for a meal, but it looked good. And it was. All of them were. And we all had dessert; I could not pass that up. I almost never have dessert and when I do, I usually regret it. But this is fine dining. The dessert?

Seasonal fresh fruit in sweet cream sauce.

I wanted to tell the dessert chef that I will happily be his or her love slave. That is how much I love fresh fruit in sweet cream sauce. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries... in sweet cream... Oh, how unbelievably, amazingly delicious! Yes, I know - full of sugar. Guess what! I'm more than okay with that! I'll have it out of my system before I go to bed. But I won't gain back the 40lbs total I'm down from a couple of years ago.

How awesome is that?!

Pro-ana is REAL?!

Ray and I are watching Boston Legal on his telly, with my third season set of DVDs. The episode was called "The Nutcrackers" and among all the other fun and games, such as Alan defending the parents of two singing daughters, all of whom are white supremecists... yikes. Or a woman suing God for the death of her husband. But this one...

A woman who knows Denny Crane came up to him in a restaurant (she was a waitress there) and asked him to help her. Her teenage daughter is anorexic and she wants to have her go to therapy and get better.

Makes sense - anorexia nervosa is a terrible disease. It is a psychological condition, not a physical one but the visible manifesation is one of a too-thin person (I say person because while much less prevalent, men do get anorexia nervosa. Crazy (no pun intended) but ture). Someone who looks like a corpse has anorexia or bulemia (related but with an added element of methodology for extreme weight loss). Well, that or they live in a country with no food.

There was a young woman on the squad that joined the Wednesday night crew when I had either just left it. She was young, maybe 19 or 20. She was pretty, and quite thin. When I saw her I immediately was wondering if she was a victim of it. I mentioned it to the Captain at that time. She wasn't on very long and about a year later she died from heart failure. Don't kid yourself, the heart failure was a direct result of the anorexia, which killed her. I don't know anything other than her mother and sister had her put into a rehab place or something like that.

So watching this episode has some memories, but not a lot; however, I was appalled to find out that there are groups that are pro-ana - the misguided thinking that anorexia is a lifestyle choice, not a psychological disease. WHAT?!

A lifestyle? Is anyone so misguided that they might think this is just a neat way to live - with your collarbones not merely there but so prominent that you could hang your shirt from them? Or that losing your period because your body can't live with the loss because you weight so much less than you should? Or having extra hair growing everywhere because your body is bringing out the heavy-duty attempts to keep itself alive by getting you warmer? This is a lifestyle?

Very often, television shows want to work things up and make them exciting. I get that, to a point. However, while there are times when they are a little over the top, for the most part their information is accurate. (They did an episode where Jerry Espinson fired a guy from his firm for being a Scientologist; the things Alan Shore brought up were dead on - plus a few weird details I'd missed when I had heard and read about them.) In this episode, "The Nutcrackers", I was sure someone made up "pro-ana". I thought no one could come up with something so dispicable as to make a disease that is a silent killer look like something you want to have. My faith in the human race is always being destroyed by something. And this is surely one of them.

I went online and too many sites came up when I put in "pro-ana". Including Wikipedia, which is generally (not always but generally) a good source of information. How scary is this:

"Pro-ana refers to the rejection of the idea that anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder. It is often referred to simply as "ana" and is sometimes affectionately personified by anorexics as a girl named Ana.

Pro-ana is a loosely descriptive term rather than an organized social movement, and as such encompasses a wide range of views. Many pro-ana organizations state that they do not promote anorexia and acknowledge that anorexia is a real medical disorder, and that they exist mainly to give anorexics a place to turn to discuss their illness in a non-judgmental environment: some promote recovery while still supporting those who choose to defer or refuse medical or psychological treatment. Others go further, disputing the prevailing psychological and medical consensus that treats anorexia nervosa as a mental illness rather than a "lifestyle choice" that should be respected by doctors and family. One study defines pro-anorexia as "a way of coping and a damage limitation that rejects recovery as a simplistic solution to a symptom that leaves the underlying pain and hurt unresolved."

The lesser-used term pro-mia refers likewise to bulimia nervosa and is sometimes used interchangeably with pro-ana.

As an encouragement to further lose weight, members often exchange thinspiration (or thinspo): image or video montages of slim women, often celebrities, who may be anything from naturally slim to emaciated with visibly-protruding bones. Conversely, reverse thinspiration may be photographs of fatty food, overweight or obese people intended to induce disgust and motivate further weight loss. Pro-ana blogs often post thinspirational entries, and many pro-ana forums have threads dedicated to sharing thinspiration. Thinspiration can also take the form of inspirational mantras, quotes or selections of lyrics from poetry or popular music. 94% of pro-ana websites have this type of content.

Visitors to pro-ana web sites include a significant number of those already diagnosed with eating disorders: a 2006 survey of eating disorder patients at Stanford Medical School found that 35.5% had visited pro-ana web sites; of those, 96.0% learned new weight loss or purging methods from such sites (while 46.4% of viewers of anti-anorexia sites learned new techniques).

A 2006 experimental study at the University of Missouri on 235 female undergraduates found that those subjected to a single viewing of a pro-ana site created by the study designers reported lower self-esteem and were more likely to become preoccupied with exercise and weight loss, as compared to control groups. A greater likelihood to exercise and a reduced likelihood to overeat or self-induce vomiting was also reported by the group viewing the pro-ana site. The study was limited by reliance on self-reports, possible non-generalizability of the results beyond viewing in a laboratory setting, and the assessment of only immediate effects.

A larger study by the University of South Florida of 1575 girls and young women in 2007 found that those who had a history of viewing pro-ana websites did not differ from those who viewed only professional anorexia websites on any of the study's measures, including body mass index, negative body image, appearance dissatisfaction, level of disturbance, and restriction. Those who had viewed pro-ana websites were, however, moderately more likely to have a negative body image than those who had viewed no websites on anorexia. It was not clear whether a causal relationship existed."

It's real. It is actually out there. Something totally ruinous to the human body is celebrated as a lifestyle and is actually permitted by the social networking sites, such as MySpace (meatmarket!), Facebook, etc.: "Most pro-ana material is disseminated over the Internet, through tight-knit support groups centred around web forums and, more recently, social networking sites such as Xanga, LiveJournal, Facebook and Myspace. These sites typically have an overwhelmingly female readership and are frequently the only means of support available to socially-isolated anorexics."

How can this be?

Well. I love this country, and I love what we stand up for. Freedom. Forget appending anything to it. Just plain old, beautiful freedom. But maybe this is the price we pay for the freedom we want and enjoy. While I have the freedom to blog and say anything I want, others have the freedom to start groups like this - almost subversive in praying on sick young women (again, anerexia does affect men but not nearly to the point that it does women) who refuse to see this as the sickness that it is.

Sometimes, I really hate the freedom we have...