Friday, June 25, 2004

Well, off to Buffalo, off to Toronto!
Posting will be close to nonexistent.
Enjoy your week and happy Independence Day!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Wretchard of The Belmont Club's prose absolutely sings. Noticed that he was updating while I was - and found these three posts on change and revolution. Do go and look at his site some. His work is something to aspire to.

Zarqawi's Oath

The Enemy Offensive Begins

High Over the Mojave
Attended a cooky-baking party tonight, the first such gettogether I'd ever been to. It was fun! We all brought dough with us, and then did the final prep work at a girlfriend's house.

I brought my favorite recipe, a modified version of the old Yankee Magazine gingersnap:

(about 40 cookies)

3/4c vegetable shortening
1c sugar, plus extra to roll the cookies in
1 egg
1/4c molasses
2c flour
2t baking soda
1/2t salt
1T ground ginger
1t cinnamon
1t berbere (ethiopian red pepper)
1/2t cloves
1/2t nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F and grease some cookie sheets. Beat together the shortening and 1c of the sugar. Add the egg, and beat until light and fluffy, then add the molasses. Stir and toss together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon, and add to the first mixture, beating until smooth and blended. Gather up bits of the dough and roll them between the palms of your hands into one-inch balls, then roll each ball in sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies have spread and the tops have cracked. Remove from the sheets and cool on a rack.


Karen made 'spitzbubbi' - linzer style cookies of a butter base, filled with either apricot or raspberry jam. They are lovely, but very very fussy. Very good work for Karen, who has the mindset for them. Wonderful.

LeAnn, of course, brought three different kinds of cookies: almost oreo-like chocolate refrigerator cookies, cardamom cookies, and my favorite of the lot: orange coconut refrigerator confections. These last ones are made from concentrated orange juice reduction combined with crushed 'nilla wafers and powdered sugar. The dough is refrigerated, rolled in balls and coated with dried coconut. The intense, yet subtle flavor sends a frisson throughout my body, makes my toes curl. LeAnn gets a kick out of the fact that I can only describe them as being...well, like your first kiss - not with some teenage goofball, but with an older man who knows what the heck he's doing, for goodness' sake. Yes, they're that good.

Wonderful evening, was nice to spend it with 'the girls.' Would love to do something like this around Christmas - we'd all end up with so much more variety in so much less time.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

For the sake of parity, an image of Ampersand. Posted by Hello

You know, I do call my cats my 'little odalisques.' For the life of me, I'll never understand how Mamasan could ever find that position comfortable.  Posted by Hello
...Then came the third siege of the city which carried his name. In 860, while the Slavs were battering Constantinople, Constantine, on the Olympus of Asia Minor, was laying a trap for them. In the silence of his monk’s cell, he created the first letters of their alphabet. First, he invented rounded letters, but the Slavic language was so savage, so wild that the ink could not contain it as such – so he constructed another alphabet with bars, thus caging this strong-willed language like a bird. Later, when it was tamed and taught Greek (for languages do learn other languages), the Slavic tongue could be confined within the original, glagolithic letters…

Daubmannus relates this story on the creation of the Slavic alphabet. The barbarian tongue would not let itself be tamed. During a brief, three-week autumn, the brothers were sitting in their cell, trying in vain to trace out the letters that would later be called “Cyrillic.” The task was a difficult one. From their cell, one had an excellent view of mid-October, and the silence was the length of an hour’s walk by the breadth of two hours’.

Methodius directed his brother’s attention to four vessels sitting on the window sill just outside their cell, on the other side of the bars.
”If your door were locked, how would you bring one of those vessels over here?” he asked.

Constantine shattered one of them, then brought it bit by bit through the bars and glued it all together again with a mixture of saliva and the packed earth underfoot.

Thus they proceeded with the Slavic tongue: They broke it into pieces, put it into their mouth by passing it through the bars of the Cyrillic letters, then reconnected the fragments with their saliva and the Greek earth beneath their feet...

CYRIL, entry from the Red Book – Dictionary of the Khazars
-Milorad Pavic

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

...Puis arriva le troisième siège de la ville dont il portait le nom. En 860, pendant que les Slaves assailaient Constantinople, Constantin, dans L'Olympe de l'Asie Mineure, leur prépara un piège. Dans le silence de sa cellule monacale, il créa les premières lettres de leur alphabet. Tout d'abord, il inventa des lettres arrondies, mais la langue slave était si sauvage que l'encre ne put la retenir, et il fit un autre alphabet aux lettres grillagées, enfermant ainsi comme un oiseau cette langue insoumise. Plus tard, lorsqu'elle fut apprivoisée et initiée au grec (car les langues apprennent d'autres langues), la langue slave put être emprisonné dans les premières lettres, glagolitiques...

Daubmannus relate une histoire sur la création de l'alphabet slave. La langue des barbares ne se laissait pas apprivoiser. Pendant un bref automne de trois semaines, les frères étaient assis dans leur cellule, essayant en van de tracer les lettres qu'on nommera plus tard cyrilliques. Le travail s'annonçait difficile. De leur cellule on voyait bien la mi-octobre, et son silence long comme une heure de marche et large comme deux heures. Alors, Méthode attira l'attention de son frère sur les quatre cruches qui se trouvaient sur l'appui de la fenêtre, dehors, de la'autre côté des barreaux.
-Si ta porte est fermé à clef, comment feras-tu pour prendre une de ces cruches? demanda-t-il.
Constantin cassa l'une d'elles puis la fit passer morceau par morceau à travers la grille et recolla le tout avec un mélange de salive et de terre glaise prise sous ses pieds.

C'est ainsee qu'ils procédèrent avec la langue slave, ils la brisèrent en morceaux, la firent entrer dans leurs bouches à travers les barreaux des lettres cyrilliques et recollèrent les fragments avec leur salive et la terre grecque prise sous leurs pieds...

CYRILLE, du livre Rouge du Dictionnaire Khazar
-Milorad Pavic (traduit au français par Maria Bezanovska)
Breakfast of Champions today; am rearing to go. A girl should have more mornings like this.
Hitch reviews Fahrenheit 911.

Jack Shafer mocks Moore's threats of lawsuits against anyone who criticises the film.

-via Andrew Sullivan

Plus, don't miss Lileks's musings on Hitchens's writing style. (Also an adorable photo of Gnat grocery shopping.)
On entering her mother's building for the evening visit, one of my friends from work heard another resident use the most charming line on her gentleman friend:

"Oh dear, I neglected to blot my lipstick. Would you mind letting me do so on you?"

I really have to find the occasion to use this. It's precious.

Monday, June 21, 2004

There's a lesson to be learned here, I think:

I looked a bit down and out, so a girlfriend offered me a chocolate. Generally able to put sweets aside, I stuck this in my one in my pocket for later. Much later, stuck my hand in my pocket.

On a good note, I do smell like a raspberry truffle.

Monday Morning Flower Posted by Hello

Found this in my mailbox this morning. Am not sure where it came from, but was very happy to receive it.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Okay, one last post, and then I'm off. With regards to the whole "one nation under surveillance" meme, I think that the biggest critics of the Patriot Act are the ones least informed on it. I remember talking months ago about this to a friend of mine who mentioned something about implanting us all with microchips (huh?). On asking her to explain herself, her response was something to the effct of 'well I read the Constitution, damnit.' Okay. Didn't really understand the relevance of this, but, as I've later seen, it's a pretty popular answer.

Anyway - I have a challenge:

Here is a copy of the US Constitution with all the amendments and a bonus edition of the Declaration of Independence.

Here is a copy of the US Patriot Act.

Let's get these documents read before we debate them, okay?, rather than rely on other groups' or individuals' commentaries on them? Otherwise, with all due respect, please just shut up.

Just got a flier for these new darlings. Granted, they are more attractive and less militantly stupid than these. Still, I think that if I were to go out and indulge my impulsive need for a meaningful symbol, I might as well get something that actually has some substance to it.

Blogs are like those Russian nesting dolls - open one up, and you find another gem within. Steven den Beste, my favorite neglected blogger (gosh darnit, I need to read him more regularly), has a great article called "Teleology and Solipsism." It's about the schism between disciplines requiring rigor and empricism and the others that do not - and on the resentment felt by academes in the latter area (who den Beste refers to as philosophical or 'P-Idealists.')

Granted, I'd not been in academia long enough (by Boston standards, anyway) to have had my brain sullied by postmodern literary theory, so I do have a hard time grasping it. My interests prettymuch end at about WWII, anyway. I guess what has been disturbing to me and what also has given me a great distaste for continuing literature studies the now mainstream appeal this form of criticism has in humanities departments and beyond. I can't function in this lack of reason. Therefore, my brain has been seeking alternative food for thought. Hence the interest and pursuit of a greater depth of knowledge statistics - something still pretty creative, but with more of a solid footing.

Heck, another factor might the deeply ingrained pragmatism of the lower classes. You know, the same thing that keeps making me think that the only people who are fervent believers in things like Socialism are the upper classes who can afford it.

Another beheading, more images of torture in Abu Ghraib - this time of the horrors perpetrated by Saddam's thugs. (I won't link to the pictures of Nick Johnson's decapitated body - you want to see them, you'll find them. I also have to warn you, Nick Shulz's article on the Abu Ghraib video is very graphic and made me sick to my stomach.)

Given how the US guard scandal - a horrible thing to be sure, but surely not the norm, and something that is being investigated and corrected as I write - was paraded all over the television screens and newspaper front pages, why is it that next to no one is covering these other acts of atrocity? Is it because they give lie to the notions that the media hold to be their truth?

Ed Driscoll has some great posts on the nature of this, and other forms of historical revisionism taking place.

(via Instapundit, of course.)
Rude awakening: woke up in a fit due to a dream I had of being so sorely aggravated at work that I yelled at the bosses and packed my things. Forgot that it was Saturday morning. Called Karen to assure myself that I did not, in fact, yell at her, that I did not leave work and that it was actually the weekend.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

I don't like to talk about work here. Too personal, I think, plus, you don't really need to hear me kvetch. We all have our little trials. The past several months have been very difficult, however, between systemic changes and turf wars going on. At the moment, I've the sad occasion of being under two managers who are completely at odds over everything. The one I usually side with (the correct one 9 times out of 10), tends towards being stomped down by others. My nickname for her is Cassandra.

At the current moment, and I swear it's an emotional thing on his part, my other manager (her boss) is trying his darndest to oppose everything she does in spite of its appropriateness. He's also taken to hollering at her. Sadly, I find myself caught up in the middle of things. If going to a higher up were an option, I would.

It's a difficult position to be in, and one that I find myself wasting too much time, emotional and intellectual energy on.

[The notes of this paradoxalist do not end here, however. He could not
refrain from going on with them, but it seems to us that we may stop
"But speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European as well, it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans. They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they've taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities." - Christopher Hitchens

Michael Moore Update, via Instapundit.

There seem to be a lot of gullible EE types, as well, who fall for this whole package. Michael Moore is quite a good marketer in that he gives his public what they want. For that, I salute him.

However, I can't help but cheer this sort of stuff on.
Strongest tastes and smells of the day:

On my walk in, had the start of the linden blooms mingled with the unmistakable perfume of ailanthus.
Not exactly pleasant, but totally unforgettable.

Breakfast, apple crisp granola bar. These are not the nature valley bars I grew up with, let me tell you.
Three cheers for the State Department!

I needed to get my passport renewed - figured it would take at least a couple months, so sent the extra fee to expedite matters some. Last week, I got a surprise call from a lovely fellow in New Hampshire (the national passport processing facility), telling me that it wouldn't take so long - maybe three weeks, and maybe I could spend the money better elsewhere. Goodness! He voided my check, recharged me at 1/2 the amount. Figured I'd get my new passport in July sometime.
Looked in my mail slot at work yesterday and found that the darn thing had arrived!

I am so pleased! Hal says that I got this treatment because a guy saw my photo. I don't know about that. Being a bureaucrat, I understand that, though there are many ineffectuals out there, there are a few good eggs as well.

Time for a round of "Don't Worry About the Government:"

"...Some civil servants are just like my loved ones
They work so hard and they try to be strong.
I'm a lucky guy to live in my building,
We all need buildings to help us along.

It's over there, it's over there!

My building has every convenience
It's gonna make life easy for me.
It's gonna be easy to get things done
I will relax along with my loved ones...

...loved ones, loved ones, enter the building.
Take the highway out and come up and see me.
I'll be working-working, but if you come visit
I'll put down what I'm doing; my friends are important.

Don't you worry about me
I wouldn't worry about me
Don't you worry about me...
Don't - you - worry - 'bout - me!"

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

For those of you not into pre romantic Polish literature, this adaptation is one of my favorite films of all time. (Probably the only thing that Jerry Garcia and I had in common.)  Posted by Hello

Like Ray's Charulata, or nearly anything by Kurosawa, this film is one that is so rich in detail that you will misremember it in color. The storyline reminds me of a Chinese box or those nesting Russian dolls, one within another and so easy to get lost in. Also not to be missed is Krzysztof Penderecki's trippy score.
Gosh, I'm going to really have to pencil in some beach time for all this reading.
More Summer Reading?

Crime and Punishment...Russian Landowners...French among Polish Nobility during enlightenment/romantic period to speak and write in French brings me to:

The Saragossa Manuscript, Jan Potocki.

Romantic time, one of my favorites to read about - when men were men and women were beautiful, strong and wicked smaht. (see Jean Giono, Stendhal) Heck, modern feminists could learn a thing or two from the female protagonists of these stories.
Summer Reading?

The mobile reader piqued my interest, not only due to his multitasking skills, but also because he and I (though he didn't know it) shared something: savoring Dostoyevsky in translation in our second language. Someday, I'd love to be able to read his works in the native language, but I've gotten pretty close with French. Since he was upper class (landed) at a point where it was fashionable for the upper classes/nobility to speak French, generally a good portion of his writings were in that language. The translations I've read have had standard text for the translations and italics denoting the french as version originale. I've actually read of people in work camps in Soviet Russia learning French through reading Dostoyevsky and a dictionary. I guess it's possible.

Anyway, bilingual guy was reading The Brothers Karamazov. Not my favorite, but still enough for me to think on on the way home. Might be good summer (re)reading. My memories of it are much less fine, since so many years have gone by and I don't take my copy out to savor a couple times a year like I do Crime et Cha(s)timent. The characters seemed too caricature-y for me in comparison to Raskolnikov. Who knows - perhaps with more maturity under my belt and a survey of his other works for framework, I might catch something I missed before.

Two nights of good, uninterrupted sleep. What a luxury. Yesterday saw my strength increased enough to rage. Today, I'm on a more even keel. I think, too, that a breakfast of Raphaella's homemade pizelle might have helped the mood, too.

Had a lovely walk in - warm, a bit humid, people generally in good humor. On the last leg of my journey, literally ran into a man walking while reading. Made a comment about not being able to multitask like that, as invariably, I would walk into moving cars/trees/walls.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Yes, by the way, that is a picture of me posted there.

Beautiful Saturday afternoon spent at the Arboretum.

Got to lay down and dream a bit under my stand of catalpa trees - the constantly changing rhythms of the leaves set against the clouds moving in the sky always lull me to sleep. (think of a visual equivalent to minimalism - John Adams or Phillip Glass comes to mind.)

Visited my massive plane trees (largest girth in the western hemisphere) and my stately magnolias (liriodendron tulipifera is the tallest east coast tree) - made the acquaintance of an amazing magnolia I'd not noticed before - magnolia macrophylla. Out of this world.

Snowy dogwoods and blushing crabapples were some other highlights.
I need to get back there more often. It's got to be one of my favorite places in the city.
 Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Sleepy Saturday morning for this girl. Got some amazing chiropractic - made me relaxed to the point of dozing off most of the afternoon. Enjoyed a little 'quality time' with the boss and two friends from work, with the help of Neil Diamond's latest album and the restaurant-sized bottle of Pavão. Today, instead of climbing mountains, I think it will be a quiet afternoon either at the beach or the Arnold Arboretum.

I apologize for the short and often flat posts of late. Couple factors: I'm running around a lot - moreso than usual. Also, am doing a lot of mental processing. Generally, while ruminating, I don't have much room for anything else.

Think it's time to just use the body and not worry so much about the mind. Stuff will sort itself soon enough, I'm sure.
Harvested the peas today. Lovely little pods, very sweet and only slightly starchy.
I'm trying to figure out what to plant in their place in the garden plot. Perhaps some of the tomatoes, perhaps the cukes.

A coworker gave me a number of heirloom plants - black and white tomatoes, miniature summer squash, cornichons. New things to play with.

The garden's at the stage where if I don't start pruning and cutting back, it will be overgrown. I hate having to discipline anything, but I know it's for the best. Next week I'll go at it with the scissors.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

A coworker just told me that someone came while she was at work and cleared all the blooms off of one of her peony bushes. Apparently this is not an uncommon occurrence in the suburbs.
I can tell you that in most of the city neighborhoods I've lived in, there'd be vengeance exacted, complete with enforcement of a code of silence.

For my friend with the now flowerless peony - we can only hope that the perpetrator did not think to dip his booty in water and ended up with an ant infestation.
Here's a new take on the insomnia thing: I was woken up at about 5:30 am by the neighbors across the street blasting salsa music, then driving off to some dancehall tune featuring Toni Childs's womonly wail.

Am about ready to brain someone at work. Communication is worse than usual and this makes it even more difficult and time consuming to do my job. I feel like I'm part of a maintenance crew following the Keystone Kops around.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Almost got taken out again on one of my evening walks - this time by a couple not paying attention to the road because they were too busy groping each other.
Je me sens comme si j'ai tire une nuit blanche.
I think I did nearly pull an all-nighter again last night. Full day at the office(une veritable aventure rocambolesque) followed by maintenance around the house, some writing, then the sounds of light carpentry work over at the neigbors' compound.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Folks, I've been up since 4:00 am enjoying the view from the roof of the Harvard Science Center. What a party! Lectures, viewings, tee shirts, even a musical interlude.

Right now, I'm occupying both giddiness and utter exhaustion. I figure I'll be good for maybe another two hours or so tops.

Good morning!

I'm Venus. Just passing through.

Have a nice day!

Monday, June 07, 2004

Got the best ever party dress this weekend - a bona fide Hawaiian one that is perhaps older than I am! It's got the requisite violent pattern in *glowing* red orange and white. Fits me beautifully and has a wonderful reference to a lei sewn around the neckline. It's one of those things that, if I don't find an occasion to wear it, I'm going to have to make one.
Morning walk: the mountain laurel on 140 Highland looks like the fourth of july, all these sparkles of blossoms and buds.

I think that the couple keeping an eye on things in this part of the neighborhood is actually a pair of falcon mates. Wasn't buzzed like a couple weeks ago, but one of them got close enough for me to check out the size, markings, head shape.

Ala from the Quickie Mart on School Street mentioned that he's going out of town for a while. Told me to let the morning guy know when they ran out of my juice. I'm going to miss him, even though this is a regular thing...back to Egypt for a month! I wonder if the cute maghrebin-looking guy is going to be watching the shop mornings. Schools out; that could be the case.

Numbers to make your day worth waking up for:

MST3K reruns watched this weekend: 21/2
Irises clipped to brighten up the house: 9
Hours I slept last night: 63/4
Hours I've been awake: 13/4
Number of cups of coffee I've had: 2
Number of animals on my lap: 1
The extent of my surprise at the lap cat being the girl kitty: immeasurable

Happy Monday.
Happy effing Monday.
Yes, we're talking again, sort of.

Took a walk on Saturday to Arlington Center. Visited a Catholic cemetary off of Fresh Pond. Hal remarked on how the graves all seemed to be fairly recent (ie - from about 1850 to now.) for a Boston area cemetary. Mentioned to him that that was about the time when the Irish were settling around here. Likewise the French. The Poles and Italians came a bit after.

At Spy Pond, got to sit and watch the geese. He floated the idea that perhaps I could get the next crop of Tufts students to imprint on me and then maybe they wouldn't have so many loud parties. Hmm, it's a thought.
Though I was not surprised by Saturday's news, there still was a bit of a shock at hearing of former president Reagan's death. This was the man who presided over my country through most of my childhood. I am sad, of course. Right now, too, I feel the need to learn more about this complex personnage who is so emblematic of our country, the west even, in modern times. Since most of my impressions of him come from selected images (the summerschool I was attending way back when cancelled classes and had televisions rolled in so we could watch the 'historic undoing' of the administration in what was Iran-Contra), pre chosen sound bites, I feel unqualified to discuss whether he was possibly the best president since FDR (as Andrew Sullivan called him). I don't believe him to have been the Doddering Old Fool that many in my current location and milieu see him as.

Anyhow, while I sort this out, here are some writings on the former president from Andrew Sullivan, from Lileks, from Oliver Kamm. Be sure to check out National Review and Opinionjournal for more.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Cosby gets nailed for speaking his mind at an NAACP banquet last week. Can't win here - if a white person were to say anything like this, it would be viewed as racist. A black man says it (especially one from a pre Affirmative Action generation) and it's classism.
Everybody's using the term, but does anyone actually know what it means?
Ask five people what a 'neoconservative' is, chances are, you'll get six or seven different answers.

Whenever I hear a buzzword bandied about, I like to get the bottom of it - origins, meanings, etc. Neoconservatism piques my curiosity particularly because I think it might be something that touches on my world view at this point. At first, I thought it a change from current 'liberal' values to 'conservative' ones with regard to foreign policy after 9/11. Then I heard that a neoconservative was a follower of a relatively obscure economics professor at a midwestern university. From my snarkier Cambridge or European counterparts - I learned it was being a Jew in politics.

About a week ago, Opinionjournal had an interesting article - it's been one of the more helpful essays on the subject that I've seen. Their maintenance is that it is not 'neo,' (has its origins in the origins in this country), it is not 'conservative,' (too idealist) - but something uniquely American. A balance between idealism and pragmatism.

I'm not a Jewess (but can play one on TV), however I am an American and not ashamed at all of that. I'm not a politician. I think my liberalism is more in tune with classic liberal values rather than the idealization of a socialist state that seems to define the term nowadays. I know that in everything I do, there is serious given to what I'd like something to be vs what the actual reality before me is. There might be something to this.
Damn Tufts Students.

Another beer blast last night, apparently. Until 2:00 am we had the HOO HOO HOO noises - making me feel as though I were trying to fall asleep during the filming of a Diane Fosse documentary.

I swear, this happens again, I'm going to borrow my roommate's speakers, train them out my window and effing a$$ crank Karlheinz Stockhausen on their sorry undergrad a$$es at six in the morning.

Pfft. Spit. Froth.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Happy technical Monday.
I'm feeling much better than during the weekend, thank you very much.
The back and neck aren't completely better, but I have considerably more motility than when I started the weekend (I don't feel as though I should be wearing a neck brace and suing someone). It's raining again, of course. I worry for the garden.

This weekend was such a haze of pain and anger. Anger at the pain, and at other things. When I'm like this, I feel very weak and raw. The guy was banished from my life pretty definitively on Saturday. We're negotiating right now.

Since I can't run right now, I've been taking to walking the running route - just to keep things up. Not too bad - same nice scenery, just a bit slower is all. I hope that I can get the knees, ankles (and still) the foot in decent shape so as to be able to pick up the pace again.

New York School Orgy on WHRB right now. Wolff's "Duo for Violin and Pianist."

Nothing pithy, witty, meaningful here. Just some impressions colored by a gray morning.