Saturday, April 30, 2005

Jesus, Mary and Joseph

He's back. With a guitar, too.
Just what we need: another singer/songwriter on a mission.

-via Althouse.

Take a look at the comments thread, too: lots of good insight in the discussion going on. Ann brings up an excellent point on how far more common moderacy doesn't tend to make the news - that it's the fundamentalist sorts or the squeaky-wheel fringe, that grab the headlines.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Today's been more or less a wash at work. Earlier in the day, we were playing photoshop games with a picture of Larry Ellison in response to something boneheaded that someone said about databases not being relational. Later on, we had a dramatic email reading. It would have been better if there were a bottle of rotgut around so we'd all be forced to take a drink everytime a business/tech term was misused. Someday, maybe I'll be able to look on all this and laugh, but right now it's so frustrating to have to take up eight odd hours a day producing nothing of consequence for people of no consequence.

Karen had mentioned a recipe that she'd been enjoying before we all got into enforced "clean living" mode: pomegranate martinis. I guess it's just a regular gin martini that you add pomegranate juice to - not a bad idea.

Am trying to decide on what my mom could use for Mothers Day.

Am trying to figure out what to do with the well over 120 tomato seedlings I'd started. I haven't enough room to plant them all and, as far as I can tell, no one I know wants or needs any. Lots of thai basil and rosemary, as well. From the old seeds from the Charlestown Gardening Club's spring cleaning - I've got evening primrose, forget-me-nots, vinca and dill sprouting. This weekend, too, we'll have our first crop of radishes.

New knitting projects - should I start another baby gift as it's spring lamb season? (Three babies at my office in the last two weeks). Should I work on a pair of socks I've been thinking about in a kilim pattern? Should I finish up one of the four or five unfinished WIPs in my project basket?

I often wonder if I'm not overdramatizing matters when I worry about dying like the bureaucrat in Ikuru.
I'm surprised, I'm shocked...something actually kinda funny from the Guardian.

(-via LGF)
Go Caltech Girl!

The Carnival of the Recipes is's the special thesis defense edition...
Aren't some of the most beautiful discoveries made while you're doing other things?

Like a lot of people, I'm sure, I've only seen the Audubon engravings of this fellow.

In other news, Bald Eagles are scheduled to be taken off the Endangered Species list. Though I've never seen one before in the city, I've heard of sightings up in the Middlesex Fells.

As for the red tails and the peregrines? There's a family of peregrines I like observing on my way to work - they swoop across Walnut Street on Prospect Hill hunting, training to hunt, playing. Frightening but so much fun to watch. It's a bad day when I don't see them or my ghetto raptors (the hawks who live in the projects in East Cambridge and hunt pigeons).

Heartening, all this.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

My friend LeAnn is an accountant by trade. In her hobby, however, she blows the likes of Todd English or Lydia Shire away, as far as I'm concerned.

She gets a kick out of the fact that I can only describe these cookies 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.

No Bake Orange Cookies

(these cookies taste better if you let them sit a couple days after making)

1 12oz package Vanilla Wafers, finely crushed
1c Pecans or almonds, finely ground
2c Powdered sugar
1⁄4 t Salt
1⁄4 t Cinnamon
1 6oz can Frozen orange juice concentrate
1⁄2c Margarine or unsalted butter, melted
1c Flaked coconut

Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, nuts, salt, cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Add orange juice concentrate, margarine or butter, stirring until well blended. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes.

Form dough into bite size balls and roll in flake coconut until evenly covered. Keep in an airtight container.

Yield: 48 cookies
I always wondered about who ended up paying for Socialized medicine.

Perhaps an invoice should be returned to them with the medical charges debited against oil-for-food kickbacks members of their government received from Saddam's cronies. Fair's fair, after all.
Almost Better Than Christmas!

"Arrivé en Espagne pour y devenir capitaine des gardes wallonnes, le jeune Alphonse Van Worden est entrainé dans une étrange aventure. La Sierra Morena, qu'il choisit de traverser pour se rendre à Madrid, jouit alors (debut du XVIIIè siècle) d'une sinistre réputation. Al'orée de cette contrée maudite, un gibet orné de pendus suplicies met en condition le voyageur assez intrepide pour s'y aventurer. C'est là pourtant qu'à travers les étapes et les épreuves d'une quête initiatique faite de terreurs et des délices alternées, le jeune Alphonse s'engagera dans la voie du vrai savoir - après avoir succombé jusqu'à l'inanition au charme de l'éblouissante Emina et de sa soeur Zibedde. Il apercevra l'abime insondable des forces qui assaillent la raison et qui ébranlent ses fragiles certitudes.

Roman picaresque, conte fantastique, récit libertin, fable philosophique, ce chef-d'oeuvre de la litterature française est une véritable anthologie de tous les genres narratifs.

Precurseur du romantisme, son auteur, le comte Jean Potocki (1761-1815), est aussi l'un des plus étincelants temoins du siècle des Lumières."

Arriving in Spain to take up his post as Captain of the Walloon guards there, the young Alphonse van Worden becomes embroiled in a strange adventure. He chooses to cross the Sierra Morena mountains en route to Madrid, which at the beginning of the 18th century, have earned a sinister reputation. A gallows with two hanged men at the edge of this cursed land prepare our intrepid hero for adventure. There, however, during the varying stages and tests of mettle from a quest of initiation comprised of terrors and delights, the young Alphonse finds himself on the path of True Knowledge - after having succumbed to a trance from the charms of the striking Emina and her sister Zibedde. He begins to get a notion of the immeasurably deep chasm of forces attacking his sanity and assaulting his fragile certainties.

Swashbuckling adventure, fantastic story, liscentious tale, philosophical parable, this masterwork of French Literature is a veritable anthology of narrative styles.

Precursor to Romanticism, the story's author - The Count Jan Potocki (1761-1815) is also one of the most sparkling documentors of the Enlightenment.


Yes...the Livre de Poche edition of the Saragossa Manuscript arrived in the mail the other day, along with a pretty post card of something I'd just bought at the Korean market for dinner that night.

Since I'm a huge fan of adventure stories, this really made my day. I'd been having a hard time trying to find a good, affordable copy of the book in the version originelle Potocki's travel experiences and rather against the grain interests really provide for some interesting twists on the standard swashbuckler story. The Saragossa is also a wonderful modern example of the story within the story framework. (Think 1001 Nights, Canterbury Tales or the Decameron). Wojciech Has's film adaptation, by the way, handles the transition between stories brilliantly and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Next thing I'm going to have to do is find a biography (actually, I saw two at Schoenhof) on Potocki, as he was one heck of a character in his own right.
What He Said!

Bumpersticker I saw on the way to work:

"Guns don't kill people but people talking on cellphones do."

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ea-Bo? Try Lame-O.

Back when I moved there, it was called Eastie. People on the Mainland used to snidely tell me that I would "have to get a gun" or that "there were no Starbucks' there." No, there were no Starbucks' there, and it turned out to be the safest, most neighborly neighborhood I lived during my time in Boston. An added bonus was the regard afforded to me by most state and municipal employees due the cache of the 02128 zipcode. I was in particularly well with postal workers.

Of course, all good things have to come to an end sometime: due to Eastie's proximity to downtown, more suits moved in and the rents/house prices went way up. Now it's become hipster central, the "hottest neighborhood in Boston" according to Boston Magazine, the Boston equivalent of Williamstown. With that veneer of hipness comes silly nicknames, too, hence the change from Eastie to Ea-Bo.

Right now I'm crammed into a little room in overpriced Somerville (another formerly crusty neighborhood that has turned hip) in the (snort) WiHi neighborhood...and I work in Ee-Kay (the part of Cambridge that hasn't been appropriated by Harvard). If I ever move back to where I come from, I wonder if I'll have to deal with WNY becoming Wi-Nee and Buffalo being renamed Bo-Flo?
Modern Day Uncle Toms?

Would it be out of line to liken this glorification of anti-intellectualism that looks to be all the rage in Academia a sort of psychological enslavement rather than physical, just as I tend to see antiglobalism as a sort of new colonialism?

As for the Hip Hop "culture" out there that is being so aggressively marketed? There was a time rap had a political or philosophic component that made it worthwhile and interesting. Nowadays, it seems to be a fetishization of the worst of the culture that it was created by. Hal was recently looking at the new Fifty Cent album recently and he said that it struck him as almost pornographic, how it glorified violence, how unlike anything by Mos Def or Public Enemy it was.
Thomas Sowell has an very thought-provoking article on race and racism and whether or not it holds back lower-class African Americans (or "black rednecks" as he calls them). I'm reminded of a couple coworkers of mine who were from Honduras talking about how easy it was to tell an "American" black from a Caribbean, latin or African - the immigrants worked hard (sometimes two or three jobs), valued education and wanted to see their kids in school, kept a pretty tight rein on their kids. The natives didn't, apparently.

I'm also reminded of Jim Goad's thesis in the Redneck Manifesto - that lower class whites and lower class blacks have more in common with each other than with the upper class/more successful members of their respective races, and that this is played upon by both conservative and liberal factions. This isn't an easy read, as Goad's style is definitely a rant. Quite an eye-opener, though, and definitely a notion that I can agree with to an extent.

A good number of my friends who, like me, come from poorer backgrounds have had to deal with the anti-intellectual/anti-education mindset of our communities. It's not easy when you've a whole culture around you that does not value your desire to better yourself - whether you are black, white, latino, whatever. My black friends often were called "whitey" or "oreo" for appropriating what they saw as white culture (standard English, not cutting class, reading as a pastime. Western New York State wasn't as bad a place to grow up as other depressed areas, however.
In mid and late May, I see that there are at least couple of events dedicated to Japanese composer and film scorer Toru Takemitsu:

The Harvard Film Archive has a series devoted to his work and the Japanese New Wave movement. Though I'd like to catch as many of the films as possible, the May 6 double feature (a documentary and Ran) being introduced by Peter Grilli of the Japan Society of Boston sounds particularly interesting. I enjoyed Grilli's introduction to Masahiro Shinoda last summer, so look forward to his insights on another friend of his from this wonderful revolutionary period in Japanese film.

On May 27, the BMOP is having a Takemitsu tribute concert featuring three pieces by Takemitsu in addition to works written in his memory- one by Ken Ueno and the other by Tan Dun. I'm not so familiar with Ueno's work, but am a fan of Tan Dun's (you can tell Takemitsu's influence on him) and would be very interested to hear their impressions of him.
Some interesting discoveries in the realm of language learning in the Washington Post don't seem very surprising to me at all. Granted, I don't study linguistics, only language, but I've never been cowed by the notion of the 'critical period.' That seems to be more about accent - both losing and gaining. Myself - I've gone through hell in the form of rather intense diction and pronunciation coaching, but have never been able to fully erase my Great Lakes twang. Language learning for me, however, has always been linked to how much effort I'm willing to put into it. In some ways, it's easier now than when I was younger: My brain may no longer be that "sponge" that takes in everything almost involuntarily, but it certainly has matured and developed. I'm better able to apply myself to a task, to concentrate on it and to focus. I've learned better study skills.

Perhaps there are genetic components as well, as just about everyone on my mom's side of the family is at least bilingual. My brother also, though he's dyslexic, picks up spoken language with an amazing facility - having even picked up some conversational Vietnamese once to communicate with coworkers.

Of course, having books and papers and hearing other ways of speaking around helped, I'm sure. Interesting food for thought - I've never really given it much thought, either. Sort of like knowing how to drive but not knowing how to build an engine - I can use the tools, but I don't try to over-intellectualize over them.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Oh look...the new Pope has a fanclub complete with cool merchandise (I'm partial to the PAPIST tee shirt, myself).

(-via Universal Hub)

Monday, April 25, 2005

In case you're interested, it's still National Poetry Month and Hal sent me something absolutely wonderful for the occasion. I've posted it over at my other site.

The poetry we are drawn to is such a personal thing - if you are interested, drop a line if you'd like to share and I'll post them over at Like Waiting for April. I'd love to know what word-arrangements make your hearts sing.
Uhh...Maurice Starr called: he wants his new act back. Yes, Hal and George were at it again at work. The objets trouves this time around were balloons that the Scientologists were handing out in front of Hal's office.

Hmm, is it me, or does the MC in the middle look a bit like Peter LorrePosted by Hello
Death, Mulch and the Space Shuttle

The hardest working guy in showbusiness recounts his adventures with spring shoveling and SPF 6,000...check out the rest of his site, too. There's plenty there, including (my favorite), his archive of the best of Late Night Monologue material.
The hardest-working girl in show business has a new website up...go check out Samarra - she's as talented as she is beautiful! Yes, and she really does specialize in the Dance of the Seven Veils, and yes, she makes all her own costumes, too.
Monday Morning Flower, aka "Carnival of the Allergies" - Last week it seems as though all the trees in the neighborhood began to bloom: cherries, peaches, apples, pears, magnolias, maples, forsythias...Goodness, how gorgeous everything looks. The visual beauty of the blooms, however, is tempered by the knowledge that I'll eventually be whunked over the head by the killer pollen count. Posted by Hello
I could be wrong, but these look an awful lot like apple blossoms. Hal found this tree about a block from my house. Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Carnival of the Recipes

What a week...what a week - I've been more discombobulated than usual lately, and a four-day work week doesn't help matters much. As a result, I hope you don't mind if I declare this Carnival a "topsy turvy" one and serve dessert first:

Sweet Stuff

"A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet..." And Frocken Fool would taste just as good if you called it something else, I'm sure. That name is just so much fun to say, though! Follow Triticale's advice and save this recipe until you can get blueberries in season; canned or frozen just wouldn't do this justice.

There are few things I like better than chocolate. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is one of them. Just looking at Pamibe's classic recipe makes me want to wax all poetical or Proustian or something.

Easy as pie and as yummy as a creamsicle, that's what Donna at Pajama Pundits's Frozen Orange Dessert is...

Oddybobo's Chianti-Poached Pears are an enigma wrapped in a conundrum: How could something so elegant be so simple? How could something so luscious actually be good for you? (It's fruit, darnit! And red wine! It's all about the antioxidants.) How can something made from such humble ingredients seem such a "rich people's" dessert?

Ohmygawd! Ogre's "killing two birds with one stone" post on cat litter cake is too funny! This is an awesome idea for a kid's party!

Caltech Girl's recipe for a luscious Strawberries and Cream Cake makes me wish that strawberry season here in New England came a little bit sooner...

Gullyborg provides us with an amazing, efficient chocolate delivery system: Death by Chocolate cookies!

Mary Beth's Fudge Pie recently pinch hit as a birthday cake...why not stop by to wish her daughter Emma a Happy ninth! Also - check out the picture of her son's last birthday cake. It's certainly one of a kind.

Countertop Chronicles offers us a recipe for flan. A mi me gusta mucho el flan. ¡Gracias, Countertop!

Drinks and Appetizers

Who doesn't love a good BLT? Dbie over at My Side of the Puddle has a recipe for a simple yet sinful BLT dip. I think I'm going to have to make this for my next party.

This first of Feisty Christina's recipes is for a classic Southern Cooler with a twist: Almond Tea. What an unusual take on the traditional lemonade/iced tea combination!

Martin at Ego's Hula-Hula Beachfloat screams little paper parasols and tiki head drink glasses. Wouldn't an impromptu backyard luau be a great start to the weekend?

Soups and Salads and Sandwiches

Owlish tinkered with a recipe from one of those little recipe books you find in the impulse aisle at the grocery store. His resulting Tex-Mex Soup sounds like a wonderful thing to have waiting for you in the crockpot on a raw April evening.

Three cheers for crowd-pleasing versatility! Punctilious at Blogoram has a recipe for a marinated black bean salad that can also be served as a dip...a veggie dish that carnivores will love...

For hangover relief, I've always counted on a chocolate fried-cake from Dunkin' Donuts and a bottle of Orange Crush. Rory at What Not To Do in Asia has another remedy. (Warning - absolutely NOT for the faint of heart. Beautiful images, though. I think I'm going to nominate him for the Diane Arbus award for food photography.)

Sometimes you have to ask yourself: Do I really need to make [insert fussy gourmet recipe here] or will I be satisfied with a tuna sandwich? Booklore's version - elegant in its simplicity, but with a kick from a couple surprise ingredients - makes that question a no-brainer for me.

Entrees and Side Dishes

Sissy at Sisu has a grand ol' time tormenting the kitties while preparing a delicious family classic: Mary's Secret Baked Haddock.

Though it sounds like a rather complex combination of flavors, Aussie Wife assures us that her Chili Beef recipe is relatively simple to prepare. Simple and exotic! How wonderful!

I love paella, but have always been intimidated out of trying to make it. Just seems so complicated. Dave at the Glittering Eye assures us that though this showpiece of a meal does have a lot of ingredients, it's easy to make. He also offers a bit of food for thought in his post. Very inspiring.

Rory has another beautifully-documented recipe - this time for Pork Diane With Chili Salad. Despite the rather conspicuous absence of kimchi (What? No kimchi!? Bring it on...the longer you age it the better; puts hair on the chest.), this has me getting ready to head out the door to the local Korean market for ingredients.

Feisty Christina says that back in her home state of Luzianne, there are as many ways to make shrimp jambalaya as there are cooks. Hers is the easy way. Sounds good to me!

Boy do I love ribs... and Bo the Nook really sets us up this week, too, with a Whole Lotta Ribs. He maintains that the secret to success in an undertaking as massive as his is Planning - and he takes us through his process step-by-step. His second recipe, provided strictly for our edification, (meow? rowr?!) has already got me thinking of substitutions.

My mouth's watering right now as I peruse Techno Gypsy's Spicy Thai-Like Noodles. This seems pretty dinner-like, but I'm thinking breakfast-like, as, well, it's breakfast time here.

ALa over at Blonde Sagacity does her part to assure the survival of a savory British institution with her recipe for UK-Style Shepherd's Pie.

Cindy at Notes in the Key of Life's Incredibly Delicious Fiesta Chicken looks pretty simple to prepare and so, so rich. Yum.

Nutritious, delicious, easy-to-prepare...that's how Dave at Third World County bills his Stovetop Taco Pie. It's a real stick-to-your-ribs kind of entree. As an appetizer, I'm willing to bet it would blow those foofy gourmet store versions so popular here out of the water.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite "Chinese" dishes was sweet-and-sour anything. I think it had to be because of the nuclear-red goopy sauce and the maraschino cherries. As an adult, I figure that those original selling points might actually be good reasons to avoid the stuff. ShawnLea at Everything and Nothing has a recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken that looks light and healthy enough to satisfy the grownup side, yet yummy and sweet enough to treat the kid side...bravo on that balancing act!

Professor Bainbridge over at his food and wine site sends us a recipe for Cocoa and Paprika-Rubbed Tenderloin. He's also included a wine suggestion and side dishes to round out Saturday dinner. If I ever get up the nerve to pop The Question to The Guy, this is what I'm serving for dinner.

You know those recipe cards that show up in the mail periodically - I have tons of them just sitting around, but have never tried any of them out. A good spring cleaning idea might be to do what Ted at Rocket Jones did - weed through them. This herbed rice was one of the survivors - and thank heavens for that.

Dave at AZ Perspective and Junk offers us counsel on how to prepare a simple pot of pinto beans. This isn't as simple a job as you'd think (as all the scorched-bottom pots in my pantry will attest), and I for one am thankful for the instructions...

Laurence at This Blog Is Full Of Crap likes corn a lot. I was neutral on the subject until I took a look at his recipe for roasted garlic corn on the cob - a summertime favorite with a special twist. (And possibly a cat toy if you're not careful.)


It's the most important meal of the day, so why shortchange yourself? Kris at Anywhere But Here has two delicious additions for your fast-breaking repertoires: Morning Glory Muffins (ooh! Carrot Cake for breakfast!) and Easy Cheese Blintzes.


After all this poetry in food, I thought my submission might be a spicy food poem as it is still National Poetry Month, after all:


A mouthful of language to swallow:
stretches of beach, sweet clinches,
breaches in walls, bleached branches;
britches hauled over haunches;
hunches leeches, wrenched teachers.
What English can do: ransack
the warmth that chuckles beneath
fuzzed surfaces, smooth velvet
richness, splashy juices.
I beseech you, peach,
clench me into the sweetness
of your reaches.

-Peter Davison



I hope you enjoyed embarking on this week's tour of the Fine Cuisines of the Blogosphere half as much as I enjoyed hosting. If you get the chance to do so, please go check out the chefs' sites. They're some really interesting folks whose blogs I'm looking forward to getting to know better, myself.

Next week, Caltech Girl hosts...until then, take care of yourselves and have a great week!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

John Derbyshire has a wonderful post on a brilliant female mathematician who apparently had a few more odds to overcome than the women of Harvard.

(thanks, Pablo!)
The artists of Somerville throw open their studio doors yet again to welcome Spring...

It's so much fun to spend a spring weekend invading the homes and studios of local artists - both to catch up on the work of old favorites and to discover new favorites. It's taking place this year on the weekend of April 30-May 1. If you'd like to catch a preview of some of the currently participating artists' works, stop over at the Somerville Museum, where there is a participants' exhibit currently going on.

Somerville Open Studios
Hippie Chic

The New York Times tells us that the "new" look this season is the peasant skirt, that women are "throwing aside" the tight, curvy clothes of the last season in favor of this more "romantic, forgiving look."

Funny, I must either be a throwback to before I was a twinkle in my Daddy's eye or a very poor fashionista indeed, as I've been buying and wearing broomstick and peasant skirts since the mid 80s. Of course, the fact that I'm in Cambridge and not Manhattan might have bearing on this issue, too.

via Althouse.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The ghetto outside its walls having been gentrified, Columbia moves to recreate one within.

The governor of New Jersey moves to have the post of Poet Laureate abolished because of this jerk and now the Columbia University Mideast Institute honors him, no doubt for his eloquent speaking of "truth to power." Hey - I have no stake in this. If this Ivy wants to remake itself into another Evergreen State, fine. If they want to bestow laurels on characters that Eddie Murphy parodied on Saturday Night Live, fine again. However, if and when parents of applicants start questioning the product they could potentially be paying a premium for, don't anyone even think of scratching their heads and asking "who blew up Columbia?"

In honor of this auspicious event, I'll be putting up a few poems today at Waiting for April.

-via LGF.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A New Pope!

I know relatively little about Benedict XVI, except from what I see in the headlines. The first German pope since the 11th century; sounds like a millenium celebration will be on hand in Bavaria, at least. I'm also noting that he's being called arch conservative and "hardliner" by the media. I guess we can take it to mean, then, that Cardinal Ratzinger is not a Unitarian?

Professor Bainbridge has some more developed "dashed off" thoughts on this. (via Instapundit)


Oh! I see that John Paul II used to jokingly refer to Ratzinger as "Panzerkardinal" (Enforcer Cardinal). That's kind of funny. I've also read that A survey in Der Spiegel(Think German Nouvel'Obs. Somewhere to the left of New Republic but not quite like the Nation or Harpers.)shows a majority of Germans being unhappy with him. Well, we'll see what happens. Must be the strong stance against Marxism and Moral Relativism.


Gosh darnit, Manolo!


One more aside: Am waiting to hear the usual suspects go on about his having been a Nazi. If they can go on about Bush being a Nazi or Bush's Family's Nazi ties, might as well go on about the new Pope.
I'm getting really close to burnout, so took a few days off from sitting in front of a monitor in the dark. It's amazing what sun and wind and salt from the ocean can do for one's spirits. Half of me is still up on the North Shore somewhere, just wandering along the shore.
Harold's half mountain goat and I'm desperately afraid of heights. So long as he doesn't do anything foolish, he can climb whatever he wants. I'm perfectly happy to wait him out below.  Posted by Hello
A view of the marshes we had just finished wandering through Posted by Hello
The reeds grow to well over six or seven feet in height. Every now and again, you get to peek through them and see just how expansive the territory they take up is. Amazing.  Posted by Hello
Sorry. This isn't Hal and Me in the Hellcat Swamp area of Plum Island; it's a scene from the story "Snow Maiden" from the film Kwaidan by Masaki Kobayashi. I was reminded of this gorgeous scene (that Hal tells me is a great example of the influence of Social Realism on Kobayashi, by the way) during our walk.  Posted by Hello
In the foreground: the scratching of the reed heads against each other; the soft, musical clicking of the stalks. Expand the range a bit to hear the rustling of hundreds of thousands of little brushes in the wind. Expand even more and listen to the little choral fantasy of redwinged blackbirds singing from a stand of scrub pines. Even further beyond that one hears children screaming and laughing in an observation tower about 1/2 mile to the north and the sound of the surf crashing on the ocean side of the island. Posted by Hello
Me ambling off into the Great Unknown.  Posted by Hello
The same boardwalk roughly four years ago. Isn't this the stuff of daydreams and inspirational posters?  Posted by Hello
Technical Monday Morning Flower - another little naturalized thing that Hal saw in a lawn on his walk to work Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Where are they now?

I thought Karen was kidding when she mentioned that Louise Woodward first went to law school and then quit that line of work to become a professional salsa dancer. Criminy. Whom do I have to kill to get a deal like that?
Outmoded in her early 30s

Richard Lawrence Cohen's post on linguistic senescence had me grinning and nodding in agreement. I'm neither a writer nor interested in eavesdropping, so I tend to not pay such close attention to the nuances of conversations around me. Still, I've found that over the past maybe 3-4 years, a lot of new jargon/slang/whatever you want to call it has cropped up. Since I don't watch television, I'm missing a lot of cues there even if they are from "stale" sources. In the blog world I have some grasp of the more bandied-about terms like "fisking" (something a professor of mine used to warn against getting too much into way back when) and "instalanche" (something that can be more trouble than it's worth in some cases). Reading newspapers and most anglophone fiction after perhaps WWII just isn't worth my time or effort anymore, so I don't. Perhaps this is cutting me off from the culture in general, but I guess I have other priorities. It wouldn't surprise me to one day end up like the old man in this cautionary tale.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

It’s official: I’ve now been to more meetings in the past three weeks than during my entire previous tenure of three and a half years here.

I was not hired to go to meetings all day; I was hired to work. WORK, I say, WORK. I am a low level bureaucrat. This means that I do meaningless, repetitive tasks for a living. My function is to act as a cog in the wheel. Management are the ones who have the task of attending meetings. I am not management. Why I need to attend meetings is beyond me. If you're short another warm body at the conference table, then hire another manager and let me get the WORK done.
Jess Bug (who turned one in March) and Snickers...isn't this sweet? Posted by Hello
Don't go messing with Gilbert and Sullivan!

We like our Gilbert and Sullivan. We don't always get all the jokes, but that's okay. You'd kind of have to have 'been there' to catch all the nuances. The music, the dance, the banter, the improbable situations all make for a wonderful evening of entertainment on the whole. For this, Hal was understandably excited at finding the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Society. The play that they chose for this semester is "Princess Ida-" one that neither of us had seen. Wonderful! Something new! Something different from the usual "Pirates" or "Mikado!"

Princess Ida is an amalgam of themes from their earlier play "Iolanthe" and the poem cycle "The Princess" by Tennyson. The music, though still characteristically G & S, has more of a romantic, almost Wagnerian feel to it - really beautiful.

In all, the HRGSS perfomance was a real treat: nobody missed any lines as far as I could tell, the choreography was showy but not too complicated, the leads were all strong. It was a wonderful evening that passed way too quickly.

Except for one thing:

"...The original intent of the play falls flat because the satire of Tennyson's women's college turns into a full mockery of women's education. While it is unclear to what extent Gilbert intended his treatment of the poem to be anit-feminist, I felt that the misogynistic undertones weakened the piece and suggested a message that I found offensive. Princess Ida's controversial theme also seemed inappropriate given the current climate at Harvard and the venue for this production - Radcliffe's Agassiz Theatre. In order to reframe the operetta's meaning so that the cast, audience and I could embrace it, I turned to the original poem and to Gilbert's original play.

In reading Tennysons' poem, I was struck by the beauty of its conclusion, which eloquently describes natural love. I reworked the ending of this production to include some of Tennyson's lines; the ensuing love scene unties and completes Ida and Hilarion's separate journeys through the story, justifies their love, reveals the orignal intent of the poem, and puts Gilbert's "perversion" into context. I also added some lines from the original play to heighten the comedy and clarify the ending. My ultimate goal in adapting the operetta was to maintain its integrity while adding organic emotional and intellectual depth - and a bit more comedy. I particularly focused on the interplay between the traditional Gilbert and Sullivan world, fueled by the two kings, and the ardent reality of Ida's women's college. The result is a satire of both sexes and a genuine love story..."

Yes, the director found cause to be offended, so he changed the ending. Essentially what he did was the following:

-changed the outcome of the battle between Hilarion, Cyril and Florian and Ida's brothers so that the brothers would win and had Ida speak these lines over Hilarion's body:

"Ask me no more: what answer should I give?
I love not hollow cheek or faded eye:
Yet, O my friend, I will not have thee die!
Ask me no more, lest I should bid thee live;
Ask me no more.

Ask me no more: thy fate and mine are seal'd.
I strove against the stream and all in vain:
Let the great river take me to the main:
No more, dear love, for at a touch I yield;
Ask me no more."

-"The Princess," VIII

At that point, Hilarion (though gravely wounded I thought) gets up, we have the wrapup - save for Ida's final lines and the finale.

It really wouldn't have been all that bad, except that you could pretty clearly tell what was and wasn't G & S's language even if you weren't familiar with Tennyson's poem. The cause for offense - well, it's Harvard. You don't poke fun at women, you don't question women, you don't try to make a distinction between theory and practice or hard reality.

For the record, I've read the original play, and I found nothing offensive at all about it. From what I've read of G & S, I've no cause to believe that either was a misogynist - far from in, in fact. If there were any cause for me to be offended, it would be because some kid on a crusade thought he could improve upon a couple old masters' work instead of just letting be. Of course, given my penchant for the wrong opinions for a Cantabrigian, I'm probably not an "authentic female voice" by any stretch, so take my pronouncements on this subject as you will.

"Princess Ida" has one more weekend in its run at the Agassiz Theater, and I do highly recommend it in spite of the bowdlerizing. It's still a fun play and the students put on a good show.
"I'm more offended by the fact that we just had to stand up and sing a foreign national anthem. Correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I can tell, our forefathers didn't fight the revolutionary war to have us singing the former occupier's anthem two hundred odd years later...Since this offends me, maybe they should change it. I like the Sex Pistols version better."

- Hal on the traditional singing of "God Save the Queen" before the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Society's performance on Saturday night.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Two Exhibitions Worth Seeing at the Sackler Museum

Saturday morning's free until noon at the Sackler and the Fogg, so naturally we like to visit regularly. Both have wonderful little permanent collections (my favorites being the Rossettis at the Fogg and the Palmyran sculpture at the Sackler) and I never tire of them. The exhibitions are a mixed bag, however: you never know if you're going to see a grad student's thesis or if you'll happen on something that is really amazing. We were very lucky last weekend.

The first exhibit was on the Hunt in Iran and India. Beyond just supplying food, the hunt was used for Indian princes as a way to establish rank among their nobles, to interact with and check on the condition of their subjects, and to train for war. Women were allowed to participate, as well, as was documented in some of the images on display. In Iran, falconry was an obsession. One noble, moved by the beauty of an injured bird he had received, commissioned a portrait of the poor animal before it died of its wounds. Interesting to note were the adaptations made to Islam to accomodate hunting, as killing anything was a sin.

I've always been fascinated by graphic representations of language and the beauty that they can have independently of what they symbolize. Marks of Enlightenment, Traces of Devotion is an exhibition of Japanese Calligraphy from the private collections of two Harvard Alumni. It is a comprehensive overview of this art spanning from the eighth to the 20th century, featuring copies of Sutras and other teachings in a formal style based on Chinese characters to more informal renderings, such as letters, diary entries and poetry, not to mention some examples of the wonderful Zen meditations. There are some great explanations on the range of written language used, the richness of materials that the texts were written upon, as well as conservation efforts of items that were considered by those who created them to be more beautiful in decay. All in all, this was a great feast for the mind and the eyes. It's only going to be up, however, until the 16th of April - so next weekend's your last chance to see it if you are able.
Fun little sayings on postcards that are decorating my workspace:

"Vive la liberté, surtout la mienne." - Jean Gabin
(Long live freedom, especially mine.)

"Point n'est besoin d'être jolie, il faut le charme." - Sarah Bernhardt
(No need to be pretty, charm is the thing.)

"L'amour est une sottise faite à deux." - Napoléon Buonaparte
(Love is two people making the same mistake.)

"Il n'ya a past de honte à préférer le bonheur" - Albert Camus
(There's no shame in preferring happiness)

And - my favorite:

"Sur le plus beau trône du monde, on n'est jamais assis que sur son cul." - Michel de Montaigne
(On the finest throne in the world, you are only sitting on your ass.)
Two things:

1.) What happened with Abu Ghraib under the US soldiers (who are all being court-martialled and disciplined, remember)isn't even in the same league as the events that prompted the creation of Guernica

2.) Botero will never be in the same league as Picasso.

Could never stand his puffy people.

A Question for the Fashionistas Out There

Does the no white stockings until after Memorial Day rule still hold? I really, really wanted to wear one of two cute skirts but couldn't bring myself to put on the best coordinating stockings. Opted instead for the drab navy gear again. Granted, I do have a bit of a Jean Seberg thing going on right now, and that's never a bad thing...the season (independently of the calendar) is calling out for something a little bit less dark.

Now, I know that the skirts I linked to appear to have bare-legged models, but that's neither appropriate for work nor practical for my walk in given the temperature. If nude stockings were an option, I'd wear them. Unfortunately, I'm so pale that they make my legs look as though I put that fake tanning lotion on them.
Schoenhof's is open on Saturdays!

When I asked the girl at the desk, she said that they'd always had Saturday hours. I don't know about that, as I always remember having to take a break from work to get books for school, etc. Hal even mentioned never having visited because they were never open when he could get there. Anyway, even with the signs all over the place stating how they were going to gouge us for 10% more due to the weak dollar, it still felt like Santa's North Pole for me.

Okay, so what was the damage:

Le Mariage Berbère by Simone Jacquemard - A young frenchwoman lives for a time in Morocco, returns to France. Takes up correspondence with a Moroccan man, writes until he mysteriously stops writing back. She's confronted with the choice of staying where she's from or going back to search for him. There seems to be an implication of her returning and going native.

A Rebours - J. K. Huysmans - I'm not too familiar with a lot of symbolist prose. Hal's read it in translation, however, and he was telling me that Buñuel was working this into a script before he died. I'll give it a try.

Deux Mille Ans de Vie Juive au Maroc - Haïm Zafrani - a history of Jewish Culture in Morocco over the last 2000 years. It looks like an interesting ethnographic study by a professor emeritus of Hebrew Language at Paris VIII. Hal was fascinated by the image of the woman on the cover - a young Moroccan Jewish woman - and made the connection that I have exactly that same portrait on my bedroom wall.

A Bâtons Rompus - Francis Poulenc - Back when I was working with Miriam, it was All French Expressionism All The Time. I was particularly in love with Francis Poulenc, who, aside from having some really big hands (love a challenge), wrote some of the most elegantly expressive liturgical music that I think we've heard in the past century. As it turns out, my favorite of Les Six wrote a fair bit for radio, lectures, etc. I'm sure that I won't be disappointed in his eloquence with the written word. Most all of my preferred composers were great writers as well (see Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, John Cage).

Der Struwwelpeter auf Französisch - Everyone's favorite little bad boy (Isn't it he who provided inspiration for the likes of Hillaire Belloc and Edward Gorey?) is back...and in a bilingual edition! Toll! Maybe I'll share some/impose some later.

Yup, you bet I blew my discretionary money for the next couple weeks. If we'd have found the Latvian section, I'm sure that even more would have been spent. Why wasn't I born rich, gosh darnit?
Talent Night

Last night featured Pablo reading to us of the unspeakable blasphemies committed against men and cattle in Lovecraft's Dunwich Horror (he found the Arkham Press editions at the Cambridge Library - so the stories are like really authentically horrible now). Sometime during all of this, Kraftwerk and Yello made their appearance and a dance contest was called. I think my roommate won; I'm not sure. We were all pretty stellar.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Monday Morning (naturalized) Flowers! Someday I'd love to have a lawn to plant with early Spring risers... Posted by Hello
My Monday Morning Chicken
 Posted by Hello

At Blue Cloud on Prospect Street (near Central Square, Cambridge) you can get a series of paintings (acrylic?) of roosters in the Matrix for roughly $450 each. Hmm...Emily Muir or Roosters in the Matrix. Hamabe or Roosters in the matrix? Tough decision. Really tough decision.
The view from my front stoop last night. The moon was so bright that though it was a crescent, you could see the silhouette of the rest of its body.  Posted by Hello
The Price of Gentrification Posted by Hello

I've largely become inured to the assininity and entitlement that comes with the gentrifiers of my neighborhood. Sometimes things can get to you, though. Clearly this got my roving photographer's goat. The park is on Summer Street between Vinal and Putnam (near Union Square) in Somerville. In case you can't read the sign, it clearly states that the park is for picnics/play and that bringing dogs there is expressly forbidden. Forbidden for all but the Happy Few, I guess. Anyway, here's what Hal had to say about the scene:

"I was amazed to see these folks using the park as a massive dog
run!!! I think I saw about 15 dogs. The sign reads that "this space
is intended for picnic use" as I know how kids get worms!"
Usually I don't like to go out on Fridays, as I'm either working late or too tired from work to enjoy myself. Hal stopped by the office, however, thus assuring that I'd get out at a decent time. (Good thing, too, as it was so stifling there I could feel a nasty headache developing.) How nice it was to get out at a normal time like a normal person and to have it light out. Anyway, since it was open and I'd not visited in a while, we took a wander through the Cambridge Street Antiques Market. (Smaller than the one on McGrath Highway, but much cleaner and easier to manoeuvre around in.) The high point of this visit was a giant Anubis statue in the back furniture section. It was going for something like $3300 and had a tag stating that it was commissioned by Haile Selassie but never picked up. How funny is that? The former emperor of Ethiopia orders something along these lines:

decides that perhaps it's not going to go with whatever his new decor is (something more Italianate? Would have gone well with a futurist or deco decor), so it sits around until a British film company picks it up. Somehow the Big Dog makes its way here to a shop down the street from my office where I can stand around and joke about moving my coffee table out of the living room so as to make room for it.

Dinner was Casa Portugal, which, interestingly enough, was hopping. I think that more people have gotten it figured out to be the "romantic place" that Hal calls it, as there were an awful lot of young couples. It was kind of fun listening to the ones seated next to us. Definitely second or third date. I had my paella valenciana (something that they make about as well as I've ever had it) and life was good. We split a pear that was macerated in port wine and decided that this was something I needed to figure out how to make.

Since Todd Solondz was sold out at the HFA (for which we were thankful as we both were beat. Don't get old; it sucks.), we made our way home, parted ways and ended up tucked in for the night at some early hour.
Heavens, what a glorious weekend. This was the first one where we didn't need coats outdoors, where I actually got a bit of a sunburn (have to watch out now). The last place I want to be is work. Gosh darnit, th prospect of spending the day in my pen under flourescent lights and with bad air circulation upsets me so much that I woke up early with my heart pounding. Hate that. Hate that. Hate that.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Kale's starting, sorrel's sprouted. I've got a ton of radishes on their way. Forget-me-nots also appear to have taken hold. It doesn't seem that the peas from Chinatown are doing much, though.

In the makeshift greenhouses in my bathroom and pantry (strong light in from the north and east), the tomatoes and basil appear to happy. Still nothing from the rosemary, though. Started some evening primrose and vinca seeds yesterday morning - they're old seeds, so we'll see what happens.

House is swept, scrubbed, mopped, dusted as much as it can be. I really need to reconfigure/get some better ideas for storage in my bedroom. I'm getting pushed out of here by my wool and books. That seems like a great spring cleaning idea...I've been looking for a loft bed or a pattern for a loft bed for some time. Any recommendations? I've been looking at the Ikea website for beds, but they don't have any weight limits listed.

Anyway, more later. I want to hit the grocery store and get a little bit of fresh air/sunshine while the gettin's good.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Rock On, Madison.

This might actually be cooler than the Transit of Venus party Harvard threw last year.
Workplace Etiquette for Dummies

Just because you don't see me doesn't mean I'm not here. In fact, there's a whole warren of us in this little area who really are getting tired of the hyena laugh and the obscenity-laced tirades.

Just because I don't have a door doesn't mean that you're welcome in my space. If I'm looking intently at my monitor and tapping away, it probably means that I'm busy. Your making yourself at home will most likely not be a pleasant surprise or respite from drudgery.

Just because it's the end of shift on Friday for you doesn't mean that that's the case for me. I'm here at least till five. Coming into the admin offices might be a field trip or holiday for you, but it's work for all of us who are assigned here. Kindly refrain from enthusiastic discussions about your weekend plans in front of my cubicle.

Every common area is not a conference area. If you have an office to retire to, I suggest you go there. If you don't, find an empty one; there are tons of them on other floors.

Your life may revolve around your child; you may well think that your baby is the most jaw-droppingly adorable thing around. I don't. In fact, I'm a bit annoyed that you're allowed to bring in your semi-domesticated animal while I have to leave my (fully domesticated, toilet-trained) animals at home. Though I'm CORI'd and am therefore a state-certified safe bet for childcare, that's not what I'm paid to do. I understand that plans can fall through...That's why we have what's called earned time.

Please don't lean on or bounce against the cube walls - when you do that, it knocks just about everything I have pinned to them onto me.

For the hundredth time: no. I am not going to put up a nameplate. When I did have one up, people would still ask me if I was Jenny from Accounts Payable or Susanne from Payroll. This has led me to the conclusion that most people who work here are functionally illiterate and that the allocation for nameplates might better be spent elsewhere (like remedial reading classes).

I am sick to death of hearing all the clever new cellphone ringtones now available, darn it. Why not consider putting the thing on vibrate or at the very least turning down the volume? It's getting to the point where I'm going to locate your phone based on the long, loud tone and pitch it out the window.

You are in a cubicle. Its walls are not soundproof. I am two feet from you. You do not need to yell into a speakerphone. For that matter, would you also please consider lowering your voice when you're on a personal call? I don't really need to hear you chastise your mail-order-bride (she must be one, given how you talk to her) or plan your next nooner.

If you're sick, please don't come in. You're not that indispensible and given how we're packed together here, illness travels like wildfire. Coughing up a lung? Again, that's what earned time is for.

(More images of Algeria and specifically the Casbah in Algiers here.)
A couple exhibitions I'd like to catch:

The Color of Baseball - Bill Chapman and Ernest C. Withers

Panopticon's Boston gallery just opened up at the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square, and I'm looking forward to checking out the space. What a wonderfully a propos location for an exhibit of baseball photography, too.

Ashes and Snow - Gregory Colbert

A friend of mine caught this one last weekend in NYC - found it stunning and strongly urged me to visit it before it moves on. It's apparently a multimedia exploration of animals in relation to humans and our environment. The images I see on the website are gorgeous, and the concept of a nomadic museum has me curious, as well.
On arrival at work yesterday morning, I found an enigmatic message in my voicemail. Took a few repetitions to figure out what the heck it was - turned out to be Pablo on his annual recording session at Prospect Hill Park.

My roommate doesn't understand our fascination as he grew up next to a pond. I know that his brother absolutely detests these guys as a result.


Update - another enigmatic message from Pablo:

Detestation for the peepers:

"That shocking final peril which gibbers unmentionably outside the ordered universe, where no dreams reach; that last amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the centre of all infinity - the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin, monotonous whine of accursed flutes; to which detestable pounding and piping dance slowly, awkwardly, and absurdly the gigantic Ultimate gods, the blind, voiceless, tenebrous, mindless Other gods whose soul and messenger is the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep."

From The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Our Tax Dollars at Work

Somerville's decided to dig up my street (and the sidewalks and possibly our front flowerbed) and treat us to a new water main. As a result, since Monday I've been waking up to the sound of pneumatic drills and heavy lifting gear in front of my house. Much as I appreciate water with a lower heavy metal content, I'm a little bit worried about the seismic activity and how it'll affect my computer, the structure of the house, etc. The dust is pretty nasty as well. There's also the parking ban in effect until this is all over (it is cool, though, to come home to all these backhoes and bulldozers parallel-parked in front of the houses). Wonder how long this is going to take to finish? Will they do that Cambridge thing, too, where as soon as one utility finishes their work, another will come and dig everything up again and again and again? (eh bien, continuons...) They've been doing that to the street in front of my office for something like three years, now.
It didn't have to end up this way.

I remember as a college student the manifestations against the one-sided pursuit of "secularism" in the lycees - no veils for muslim girls as France was a republic, and it was expected that one live under the principles of the Republic (no enforcement for crosses, however). I remember trying hard myself to fit in there, but failing. I remember the policies in place for getting permission to stay in the country and how absurd they seemed. (A doctor had at one point explained to me when I asked why I was getting a syphilis test six months after my arrival when I could have infected 2/3 of the Hexagon at that point if I'd tried - also, didn't it make more sense to test for le SIDA? He said disarmingly franchement that it was largely to discourage les maghrebins. I also remember that about the only Francophones I associated with aside from the people I was living with were maghrebins (this was a fair cause for concern to the lady of the house). It was tense during the first Gulf War, but for the most part, the people who were close to me were kind enough. Some had even said that, given France's treatment toward their former colony, if an American were to run for president in Algeria, he could very well be elected.

What happened? Racism, misplaced shame combined with multiculturalism and laziness, the mismanagement and subsequent non assimilation of immigrant populations, and a particularly ugly variety of Islam taking the place of what institutions should have been there to help people. Not just in France, but throughout Europe, from what I can see. I can't wrap my mind around this. Heck, not that I care too much, as French is French, but it seems awfully ironic que si jamais je decide a me rendre quelque part ou je pourrais m'immerser en une langue qui es un peu plus commode, il serait bien plus pratique a tenter ma chance au Maghreb, a Liban. We'll see.
Lileks on other places he could call home:

"The desert speaks to me. And it says: I will stick you and make you bleed. If I’m in a good mood. Or I might strike you down and bake you brown, a canapé for carrion-feeders. So watch it.

I like the colors of Arizona. Both of them. I like the mountains, which seem more approachable than the grand titans of the Northwest. I like the climate, and I like the architecture. It’s everything I didn’t grow up with, which may explain it. I just know that I like it. I’ve been saying I’d move here in five minutes if I could.

They all think I’m joking."

I'm a pale, pale, dead-fish-white girl with blue-veiny legs and lots of freckles I have to keep an eye on (lest one turns a strange color from too much sun). I pride myself on my fortitude when it comes to the New England climate: Autumn, brutal Winter, a few days of Spring, several weeks of Mud, a Summer that's a Sauna with Bugs. I've been to the desert three times in my life, and have come to the same determination as he has: it would think nothing of killing me and grilling me if I don't keep on my toes. There's something about it that really appeals to me, though. As I continue to get fed up with the weather, the crowding, the filth and the expense of where I live, the desert calls out to me a bit more strongly. It's either Back Home or there, I think.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Okay, it's late - I need to sleep, but I also want to take a bit to digest a poem meant to complement the "country mouse" post at April and knit a bit. There are a few other things that need to get taken care of (bill paying, for one), but they'll just have to wait.

Good night.
This is actually kind of cool.

I remember reading a graphic novel on the life and works of Don Bosco back when I was in Grenoble - the artwork was interesting, the narrative dialogue-driven and simple. Not a bad format at all.
Not that anyone was wondering, but it's been just horrible at work lately. As I currently am a body without a title or job description, I've been getting jerked in what seems to be a hundred directions at once. Today I spent a good portion of the day turning bar charts into bell curves for one group that either couldn't or wouldn't figure out how to do this for themselves. I must have done nearly 100 of the blessed things. When I finally got out of the office and headed home, I was in such a frame of mind as to look upon the ordinarily beautiful Victorian houses perched on Prospect Hill as being no better than the hovels made of corrugated metal and cardboard on the outskirts of Sao Paolo. It's not a good place to be when you see ugly even in the beautiful like that. I hope that stuff calms down soon. I fear that things will only improve, though, if I move on. Just feel too tired to contemplate taking on that moving-on thing.
Oops! there goes another Harvard Scholar...

(-apologies to the Chairman.)
Spring Cleaning

I finally got around to tidying up my blogroll; took out a couple links that didn't work any more and added a few:

Daniel Drezner goes up, as whether he's writing about the latest NYTimes op eds, politicking in religion, baseball or chocolate, it's an engaging read.

Norman Geras also comments on a wide range of topics, links to a virtual version of a game that I just learned how to play this past Easter, and is such a clear-headed, reasonable, Liberal-minded liberal-left (does that make sense?) voice.

Mme Adèle, author, former singer and French teacher, has a veritable treasure trove of links to literacy, writing, and children's book sites in the UK (and perhaps beyond). In looking at her latest works, I do have to say that I'm more than a little intrigued by the first ballet stories.

Some of us jot little notes down here and there in our little web journals. Some actually write.

Bloggers cannot live off their text alone, and that is why we have the Carnival of the Recipes.

Oh, and since I am reading this regularly - why don't you give it a try?
You can't beat the classics; they have you outnumbered.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

This morning upon waking up, my brain decided to throw me these lines:

...The shrieking of nothing is killing
Just pictures of Jap girls in synthesis and I
Ain't got no money and I ain't got no hair
But I'm hoping to kick but the planet it's glowing...

There are worse things to be going through a girl's head first thing in the morning, but I was a bit perplexed by this. I've not heard the song in years. They don't play it on the radio and I don't have a working cassette player anymore to the album. Maybe I should remedy that. It would be nice to hear the whole song again, as apparently it's one that I like so much that it's embedded in my psyche. Hmm.
This is unfortunate.

Imagine the hit her self-esteem must have taken to have a federal jury decide that she couldn't have been turned down for promotions because she was "too sexy" or a "pretty girl."

I'm really sorry, but something like this might have gone over in private industry, but at a place like Harvard? For crying out loud, you can't even get an interview for the most part unless you've got connections or appear to be a "diversity candidate." Combine this with a strong union presence and recent feminist jihad against Larry Summers in FAS and the cries of institutionalized racism/sexism start ringing awfully hollow, in my opinion.
Beasting Barney

Anna made me giggle with this little bit of email fun:

Roman #’s: C V V L D I V
Arabic #’s: 100 5 5 50 500 1 5
Total: 666
Therefore: Barney is the Devil
(or not)

I guess it's proof positive that either Barney IS the antichrist, or that if you take anything far enough out of context, you can relate it to whatever you like.

This practice of twisting numbers or letters around to find "666" is called "beasting," I've learned, and was coined by Martin Gardner, a wonderful puzzler and full-time skeptic.

Monday, April 04, 2005

In spite of the meterologists' warnings that we were going to get the Grand Deluge, it turned out to be a nice weekend. Picked up a couple (mismatched but still complementary) dinner plates, a couple jelly jars and a pretty little spring skirt at the boutique. Also wandered over to the new antique market over in Davis and left with a pretty, Wiener-werkstaette(isch) vase. It had a crack in it that had been repaired, so Hal kept saying "it's got a crack, it's got a crack," as though this were a problem. All I know is that it's darn pretty (the shape's very art deco like and it's got a lovely trumpet creepers on a trellis design painted on it.) and, because of its hurt, it was priced to leave the place. I figure that, if I put a tupperware bowl inside, it might make a nice container for some of the hydrangeas I'm hoping will come up this summer.

On the walk home from the antique store, we heard the bells tolling and knew what had happened. Though initially I wanted to cry, I do understand that this is all for the best.

At the moment, I've an almost total media moratorium, as I just don't need to see the attempts to spin news out of nothing. One friend mentioned that it was All Pope All the Time in his neck of the woods, with a good portion of the air time going to correspondents asking The Man In The Street how they felt about a.) sanctioning of gay marriage b.) women in the clergy c.) birth control. As if this is all anyone can think of regarding the third longest papal reign ever.

Norm Geras this morning offered a post on John Paul II's relating to Jewish people, and on the personal recollections of some Holocaust survivors. What I find to be particularly striking in this is the Pope's reference to the Jewish people as the "elder brothers" of the Christians, and of his steadfast insistence in the need to forge bonds and ensure the survival of Israel.

Such talk of unity from a man who was considered a staunch conservative. Such revolutionary talk of Jews being the "older brothers" of Christians has painted other clergymen as radical or even antireligious. I'm not amazed by it, however. It seems right in character.
It's been a heck of a day. I've been to more meetings in the past few days than I had been in my previous 31/2 years tenure. This is not fun, as I don't consider meetings to be productive time. Combine this with colicky publishing software, and you end up with a very frustrated girl with a fair bit to say.
Not a flower, but just as pretty (only in a different way). He's soft, but strong and doesn't tend to lose petals or anything when you hug him. I'll tell you, though, he's picking up some really annoying habits lately. Table hopping wasn't enough, apparently, so now he's taken to lap diving from the kitchen table. Last week, we had a bit of an incident involving my latest edition of the Weekly Standard,, a glass of soda and some laundry that I'd just folded. The last thing I needed was to have to redo a load of laundry and mop the kitchen floor at 9:00 pm on a Friday after a miserable work week.  Posted by Hello
The Monday Morning Flower for this week looks like it came either from my neighbors' yard two doors down from me or from Hal's mom's garden. Cosmos grow like weeds in my yard, but I don't have bachelor's buttons. Wouldn't mind some, actually, just haven't gotten around to planting any. Posted by Hello

Friday, April 01, 2005

"He is living his via crucis."

During his illness, all sorts of questions have been raised. Would the Pope consider abdication? What would happen if he were to become gravely incapacitated for a long period?

The questions are not without interest. But they miss the more compelling point in this drama. Contemporary Western culture doesn't have much truck with suffering. We avoid it if possible. We sequester it when it becomes unavoidable: how many of us will die at home?

Embracing suffering is a concept alien to us. And yet suffering embraced in obedience to God's will is at the centre of Christianity.


His recent hospitalisations and his struggle to live out the commitment to service he made at his election in 1978 should remind everyone that he is, first and foremost, a Christian pastor who is going to challenge us with the message of the cross - the message of Good Friday and Easter - until the end.

As Hanna Suchocka, the former Polish prime minister, described the Pope to me recently, "He is living his via crucis", his way of the cross.

It's not something the world has watched a Pope do for a very long time. We should recognise it for what it is and be grateful for the example.

Read the whole thing. This, too.

Whatever your feelings on John Paul II, you absolutely cannot deny his strength of character and courage. I remember as a kid being so impressed by his visiting with and forgiving the young Turkish man - Agha - who attempted to assassinate him. I remember reading about what he'd gone through in Poland both during the Nazi and the Soviet occupations. We're seeing more of that here.

I'll be very sad when he passes, but also happy that his suffering will be over.
You have been assimilated-

Something very strange and upsetting is happening over at Tung's Minutes of Five More Libidinal Althouses.

Since I just got out of a HIPAA information security meeting, all I can say is - folks, keep an eye out on your personal information (passwords, etc), for crying out loud. Get the post-it notes off your monitors. Maybe it's time to come up with a new system that incorporates alpha/numeric/punctuation into easy-to-memorize arrangements (or something).

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates, II

As far as chocolate is concerned, I'll take quality over quantity any time. I was trained into this by my French maman years ago who encouraged me to have just a little piece of dark chocolate pour ma sante every day. It wasn't artisanal stuff, just regular blocks she'd pick up at Carrefour - but, ciel, was it good. I also found that that extra bit of magnesium, along with some of the other good stuff (hormone mimicking?) within really helped calm down painful times of the month. Quite a concept for a girl with weight issues to pick up on - that chocolate wasn't necessarily a "bad" food and that small quantities could actually be beneficial.

It's pretty easy for me to stay away from the candy bowls that litter my office - they're generally filled with sugary things like M&Ms and miniature Snickers bars. For the sake of my health, though, I do every now and again like to hit Teuscher on Newbury for a few of their dark bars. They're expensive as all get out, but a little goes along way and makes a wonderful complement for my current (other) favorite antioxidant delivery system, as well.
Recipe Carnival's Up!

Again, lots of amazing-sounding stuff. I'm particularly intrigued by the peeps recipe.
Happy April Fool's Day...Happy Start to National Poetry Month-.