Sunday, February 29, 2004

Today's language lessons

1. Dr Seuss does chiasmus

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.

I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful, one hundred percent.

From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.

2. Recreational grief

"The British think tank Civitas published a report this week under the title Conspicuous Compassion. Its author, Patrick West, argues that public outpourings of grief, such as those after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and following a number of recent child murders, show that society hasn't become more caring or altruistic, but more selfish. He asserts that what seem to be public signs of caring — such as wearing coloured ribbons, signing Internet petitions, and carrying banners saying 'Not In My Name' — are part of a culture of ostentatious caring which is about feeling good, not doing good; of projecting one's ego and thereby showing others what a deeply caring individual you are, not actually doing anything that makes a difference."

Kinda makes you think, huh?

3. Lucid in the sky with diamonds

"The death was reported this week of the British-born, Canadian-based psychiatrist and researcher Humphry Osmond, who in the 1950s carried out many experiments in mood-altering substances such as LSD and mescaline to find therapies to aid schizophrenics (he helped Aldous Huxley to experience mescaline, whose effects the author described in The Doors of Perception in 1954). Osmond coined the word psychedelic for such substances in a letter to Huxley in 1956; he said it included 'the concepts of enriching the mind and enlarging the vision.' He coined it irregularly from psyche + Greek delos (clear, manifest)."

I believe my family had one of those weird degrees-of-separation relationships with Dr Osmond — but by that reasoning, we also have relationships to Marilyn Monroe, Margaret Atwood, and Kate Bush, so perhaps that's really apropos of nothing but coincidence. (But my mother likes the Marilyn thing...)

4. Oh those Martians!

"The Martian day is some 39 minutes longer than ours and has been officially named the sol (the Latin for sun, which is also the official astronomical name for our star). NASA workers on the various Mars spacecraft projects have coined "yestersol" for the sol before the current one."

Maybe I'll move to Mars ... after a few weeks I'd catch up with myself! Though I suppose Martians don't have weeks either, since a week is seven days. We need a word for seven sols!

5. Chiastic pedagogy

"Teachers operate at a higher level of effectiveness when they question answers than when they answer questions." —Dr. Mardy Grothe

Yours crossingly,

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Words words words

• A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. —Charles Peguy, poet and essayist (1873-1914)

• Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad. —Victor Hugo

• Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it. —Michel de Montaigne

• When one is learning, one should not think of play; and when one is at play, one should not think of one's learning. — Lord Chesterfield

Watching raspberries march across the property line, into the back alley where the neighbours sample the fruits, enjoy the sweetness of the sun captured in the juice. Who could kill a raspberry cane? Let the mint free of its container, let it creep across the yard, let it overtake your senses with pungency, with bite. Take it upon your tongue like a word. Touch with your tongue, forbidden. To eat is not to consume. To consume is to have again. It is only farewell, not goodbye. —Leslie

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Eating buttered muffins with relish

That ought to get your attention if you know anything about me. No, I wasn't eating buttered muffins, with relish or without; I just made some delicious bran muffins for dinner and the conversation took a funny turn...

I know entirely too much about enteric pathogens for my mental comfort!

I have crossed off ONE item on my to-do list for Reading Break, and tomorrow is Friday. Ick blick yick.

Bought tires for my Sunfire. Ugh ugh ugh: now the driver's side headlight has burned out! I had predicted my next car would be a Volvo, but perhaps we haven't become quite so middle class. If it wasn't so trendy, I'd get a Beetle. Maybe vintage...1958? Hmm.

Red light yellow light green light go ...

Today I like: Gwendolyn sweetpeas. Chai. Easter creme eggs. My scruffy blanket. Sweet words.

"pour some sugar on me"

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


I just don't get it. I mean I understand viruses and malicious hacks and such but when my computer becomes a uselss piece of junk just by clicking on the wrong link? Sheeesh. I don't understand Microsoft for allowing it; I don't understand adware writers that are killing the mouths that feed them; I don't understand PC users that don't scream in frustration and go running to their Macs.

I just went through about 3 weeks of screwing around so I could finally just format my harddrive and start over. Kate (Bill' Hole's daughter) is just starting the same process. Go to web security sites and read about people screaming in frustration.... AAAaarrggghhh!

We bought a new eMac so I could use my XP box to share the printer, so L would have more space for MP3s and because I wanted Panther (OS 10.3). So now we have 4 functional computers and a semi-functional laptop... Last time I counted there were only three in the household... 4 if you count the cat... no opposable thumb there though...

Conspicuous consumerism or justifiable modernization? You decide!

Panther is cool though. I loaded it up with 60 meg of RAM and it purrs along. The fast user switching is mucho cool and I actually like the interface after a while.

Anyway gotta go pick a peck...


Tuesday, February 17, 2004


Soon-to-be-author Paris Hilton on being introduced to Jackie Collins: "If I could read a book, I'd definitely read one of yours."

Now reading: At Random by Bennet Cerf.

Now listening: iTunes: "99" by Toto

Now avoiding: marking


Sunday, February 15, 2004

Some things to think about

"Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich." —Peter Ustinov

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge." —Anatole France

"Years ago I recognized my kinship with living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." —Eugene Debs

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Late-breaking news

New computer: eMac! Means I'm learning OSX. Slowly. Good news: now I have access to (listening to) the iTunes music store. And I can watch DVDs while I (don't) work. How ... productive! But I sure do like this new box.

And now, as a diversion, a quotation from one of my favourite movies ever, Say Anything.

"A career? I've thought about this quite a bit, sir, and I would have to say, considering what's waiting out there for me, I don't want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed or buy anything sold or processed or repair anything sold, bought or processed as a career. I don't want to do that."

OK, back to wrestling with the dock...

Dramatic irony

Says Colin MacLean, "the dean of Edmonton theatre reviewers":

So who was Shakespeare? Well, perhaps Christopher Marlow [sic]. Marlow [sic] was reasonably educated and a brilliant playwright. But he was also a wastrel, an egomaniac and a heavy drinker. He supposedly died in a tavern brawl in 1593 about the time Shakespeare began to gain attention as a playwright. Conspiracy theorists suggest Marlow [sic] was wanted for treason, faked his own death and used Shakespeare as a cover for his subsequent writings.

I think the Citadel theatre needs an editor for its playbill. Checking the masthead, I learned that The Citadel Playbill is a Suggitt publication — say no more!

oh the sound of the wind through my bones makes me laugh...
—Jann Arden

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Happiness is a warm CD

You're my friend, you keep me going
You make me see where I went wrong
You make me laugh when things just don't seem funny
Things aren't funny anymore...

from "Tiny Thing," written by Charlotte Wiebe; recorded by Jenson Interceptor

• Thanks to those of you who send encouraging notes! I do enjoy writing. Now where did I put my hourglass?

love you,

PS: Now reading: Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. This book is absurd and hilarious — it makes me cackle! Recently finished: Paul Quarrington, Whale Music. A lovely faux-biography. I miss the sixties...

Sunday, February 01, 2004

The going water and the gone

It's February. Two weeks to Reading Break. Hanging on, hanging on. Have you heard about miasma theory? Or Cryptosporidium? Editors end up with brains full of intellectual litter. This morning I dreamed that I had to appear before a committee to defend the connection between my employment history and my proposed academic interests. It was going badly when I, gratefully, woke up.

• I remember the cake I ordered for my mother's fortieth birthday. It was vanilla with chocolate icing, decorated with pink and yellow roses and green writing that read "Happy Bar Mitzvah, Irving" (from a long-standing family joke about getting the wrong cake for various purposes). Mr Wright, who made it, was distinctly puzzled by my request but stepped up gamely. It was a delicious, hideous cake. As for most other things, we have no photographs of it.

• Long-time Edmontonians: Do you remember Shaky's Pizza in the Meadowlark area? I do. This would be circa 1975. A restaurant that made fabulous thin-crust pizza and had a viewing area for little ones. Long, long, long gone, of course.

• Highland dance: 1975. Interpretive dance: 1985. Dancing Queen: 1977. Flashdance: 1983. As Splashdown says, "Time was a line that the mind could bend."

• Have you seen that obnoxious McDonald's commercial involving stay-at-home moms and their baby ballerina daughters? Il me fait vomir! Especially the closing shots of the "mommies" getting squishy watching the male dancer in the next studio doing his warm-ups. (Wow! Look at all those participials!) Harrumph! Give me a goalie any day.

Sigh. Still waiting for my Jensen Interceptor CD. Maybe tomorrow. Still cold outside. Going to Stones in His Pockets this afternoon. Lots of movies I want to see — lately I have a bee in my bonnet about seeing movies. Even though the theatre experience for Return of the King was less than stellar. Eh bien. Sorry this doesn't make sense: it's kinda like someone poured a coke on the soundboard of my mind. But not exactly. Will try again soon.