Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It was really just a physical exam ...

but I thought you might want to know how it went.

Thoughts for the day

Now hold that thought ...

Because everyone knows how dangerous angry parents can get at a kids' baseball game, surely it is smart to go armed to protect yourself. What could possible go wrong?

Full disclosure: My brother teaches gun safety classes. My nephew sells guns. I grew up with guns on the wall of my bedroom and was a pretty good shot as a teenager. We keep guns in the house, in a gun safe.

This guy is driving some people crazy!

Apparently some folks are already screaming that this is a Marxist sentiment.

One might say, however, that it has pretty traditional Christian roots. Inequality (as we know it today) is rooted in disparities in wealth. And as we all know, I Timothy 6:10 says, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

Of course, those with money often think this verse applies only to the poor who do not have money and are therefore eager to get it.

See? None are so blind as those who will not see, none so deaf as those who will not hear.

Which is neither a papal nor a scriptural citation, but nonetheless true.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wasso gato?

From the Creator of the Cronut: The Waffogato

First he invented the illustrious cronut, then the internet went crazy for his milk and cookie shots, and now Dominque Ansel is at it again, this time with the Waffogato. Ansel recently stopped by the Wendy Williams show to tout his latest creation, which features a vanilla ice cream "waffle" with tapioca balls and bits of Belgian waffle inside. A shot of hot maple syrup espresso is then poured over the frozen waffle, which releases the tapioca balls as it begins to melt, creating a sweet sauce for the remaining ice cream. The new offering will be available at the bakery beginning May 9.


I remember overhearing a conversation once between a Mexican and a U.S. citizen who were sitting at a nearby table in Mexico City. I am not sure what the topic was, but at one point the Mexican woman threw up her hands and said, "You'll never understand. In your country you give milk to cats."

Wonder what she would say about Waffogatos? (Gato is the Spanish word for cat.)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rainy days and Mondays ...

We had a rainy Sunday, are having a rainy Monday and looks like a rainy all-week. What to do, what to do, what to do?

Sounds like a plan!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Wally World

We shop at Walmart because -- surprise, surprise! -- they drove out almost every locally-owned business in town. We can drive 20-25 miles round trip to buy groceries elsewhere, and at times I do this. Or I take advantage of the fact that I am in a nearby town to do some grocery shopping. But we still wind up shopping at Walmart a lot.

I have friends who work at Walmart. I find the employees to be, on the whole, friendly and as helpful as they can be under the circumstances. On the other hand, shopping there is not a pleasant experience. Register lines have to be a mile long before they open another register. I have told Tom more than once that we might save time driving twenty miles to shop where we do not have to stand in line for twenty minutes once we have our cart filled.

No matter what time of day you go there, the aisles are blocked by stacks of things employees are trying to shelve. Yet the shelves are often almost bare. Items you see one week never reappear. A week or more can pass while the shelves with things like coffee are half-empty. You trip over large displays of "As Seen on TV" junk  or Duck Dynasty chocolate while you cannot find normal food products.

I do not like giving them my money, directly or indirectly. I an horrified that people who work for them are often forced to go on food stamps to feed their families. I have seen too many small downtowns wiped out and local businesses destroyed to have any appreciation for the fact that I can save a few pennies on a box of macaroni and cheese. If, that is, you can find it on the shelf.

I understand that Walmart is having some financial difficulties because the business model they champion has led to too many people no longer making enough money to buy even at Walmart. And because of cuts to things like food stamps, those people who used to spend all their food stamps at Walmart (and NOT on beer) now have fewer stamps to spend. So Walmart is losing money.

No doubt when the crisis gets worse, someone with political power will declare Walmart "too big to fail." The money that could not be found to feed the hungry will magically appear to prop up a business that helped destroy healthy local economies across the nation. The poor will still go hungry.

"Jesus wept." John 11:35

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water ...

So I started the week off feeling pretty good about getting things out of the way.

Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun

Then the library director pointed out a five-week online course for those (meaning me in our library) who help people cope with Overdrive Media Console. That's the application patrons use to download digital books and audiobooks. So I signed up for that. The lessons are relatively brief but there are homework assignments! So far, it looks like the lessons may not touch the problems that I need to solve, but perhaps I am wrong.

And then the Carmelite editorial director contacted me to ask if I could do one small additional task on the project I had sent them. Looks like it will not take too long and I agreed.

But at the end of the week I am feeling less cheerful

On a more positive note, I did get several hours of work done on the novel. A friend commented that he thought I should have a title or something to reference instead of "the novel" all the time. So from now on I will refer to it as Whoville Too. 

Had my bone density scan on Tuesday. Still have osteoporosis and am at high risk for a future fracture. [Note to self: Do not trip and fall down stairs.] On the other hand, the bone density has improved since this time last year, so at least I am moving in the right direction. I have my annual physical this Tuesday. Who knows what surprises lie in store for me?
Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun

Friday, April 25, 2014

Okay, putting that Christmas list together?

I think the cats want this, but they are too polite to ask.

This word, ironically, is never on the tip of my tongue.

The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon , sometimes called presque vu, is the failure to retrieve a word from memory, combined with partial recall and the feeling that retrieval is imminent. The phenomenon's name comes from the saying, "It's on the tip of my tongue."

One of the quirky things about how my mind works is that, once a question has emerged for some mysterious reason, I want to find out the answer. This morning, although I did not have a "something on the tip of my tongue," the phrase came to mind and I wondered if there is a term for it.

And it seems there is. The name for it comes from the French and means "almost seen." Just as that "this has happened before" thing is déjà vu, "already seen."

And then there is jamais vu, "never seen", which involves a sense of eeriness and the impression of seeing the situation for the first time, despite rationally knowing that you have been in the situation before. Jamais vu is more commonly explained as when a person momentarily does not recognize a word, person, or place that they already know. Been there, done that!

I am reasonably sure I had never seen presque vu before, but if I did, that must mean that I am experiencing jamais vu.

And if my over-explaining feels like it has happened before, then, voila! Déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra may never had said.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

You may disagree, but ...

Texas, our Texas?

Texas is the second most populous (after California) and the second-largest of the 50 U.S. states (after Alaska) in the United States of America, and the largest state in the 48 contiguous United States. Geographically located in the south central part of the country, Texas shares an international border with the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the south and borders the U.S. states of New Mexico to the west, Oklahoma to the north, Arkansas to the northeast, and Louisiana to the east. Texas has an area of 268,820 square miles (696,200 km) and a growing population of over 26.4 million residents (July 2013).

And things, they are a'changin'.

Sleet vs. hail

On Palm Sunday night, we had four inches of snow. That same week we had some serious hail. Today (April 24) we are having sleet.

Sleet and hail have different properties, though they may look similar. They require different circumstances, weather conditions and seasons in order to be produced. One difference between sleet and hail is the time of year in which each occurs. Typically, hail is most often a summer occurrence, while sleet occurs mostly in winter. You’re much more likely to see hail in warm and oppressive weather where a sudden thunderstorm occurs. In fact, you need cumulus clouds like thunderheads in order to produce hail.

Did the man say summer? We are nowhere near summer, but the temperatures have been zigging and zagging up and down pretty radically.
Hail begins as raindrops at the bottom of clouds; "bottom" means those parts of the clouds that are closest to the earth’s surface. The action of updrafts sends raindrops toward the top of thunderheads, where the temperature is cool enough to cause the raindrops to freeze. The now frozen raindrops start to fall, but updrafts cause hail to swing up to the colder top of the clouds several times. Each time this occurs, hail accumulates more water from the lower clouds, which is then frozen to create layers. If it happens often enough, you might see huge pieces of hail fall to earth. More typically it goes through a few cycles and looks like pea-sized pieces when it hits the ground.

Sleet and hail may look similar, but the formation of sleet is quite different. Clouds that might produce sleet are warmer than the air below, and don’t have significant updrafts. In fact when sleet falls from clouds it is still rain.
The temperature of the air, as rain falls from the clouds is cold enough to freeze it on the way down. Therefore sleet doesn’t freeze in upper cumulus, but instead freezes in the air. Sleet won’t be large since it doesn’t accumulate extra layers of frozen water. It usually melts quickly, because the air on the ground is warmer than air a few feet up.
A phenomenon separate from sleet and hail is freezing rain. This is also typically a winter occurrence, but it requires freezing temperatures on the ground instead of in midair where hail freezes. Freezing rain tends to remain rain until it hits the ground, where it instantly hardens and creates a sheet of ice on the ground. Of the three types, freezing rain is often more dangerous to motorists than is sleet and hail. Due to low ground temperature, ice layers on the ground may remain for several hours to several days, creating slippery roads and very unsafe driving conditions.

Happy birthday, Library of Congress!

The Library of Congress was established on April 24, 1800 as part of the transfer of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the District of Columbia.

The collections of the Library of Congress include more than 32 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages; more than 61 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America, including the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, a Gutenberg Bible (one of only three perfect vellum copies known to exist); over a million US government publications; one million issues of world newspapers spanning the past three centuries; 33,000 bound newspaper volumes; 500,000 microfilm reels; over 6,000 titles in all, totaling more than 120,000 issues comic book titles; films; 5.3 million maps; 6 million works of sheet music; 3 million sound recordings; more than 14.7 million prints and photographic images including fine and popular art pieces and architectural drawings; the Betts Stradivarius; and the Cassavetti Stradivarius.

It is not the oldest library in the country, nor even the oldest one supported by taxes. But it is an amazing institution. When I was a student in Washington, I visited there several times. Since it was established originally as a resource for the members of Congress, one can only hope that they continue to make use of it while pondering matters of national and international import.

I have to admit, when I hear the members speak, I sometimes wonder ...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


More than one in five American kids lived in a “food insecure” household in 2012, according to the newest annual Map the Meal Gap report from anti-hunger charity Feeding America. 

The food insecurity rate for children nationwide is 21.6 percent. That number rises to almost three in ten kids for a long list of states including New Mexico (29.2 percent), Mississippi (28.7 percent), Arizona (28.2 percent), Nevada (28.1 percent), Georgia (28.1 percent), Arkansas (27.7 percent), Florida (27.6 percent), and Texas (27.4 percent).
America does a slightly better job at feeding adults, with an overall food insecurity rate of 15.9 percent. The good news is that that’s down from 16.4 percent in 2011, and 1.1 million fewer Americans went hungry in 2012 than in 2011, but that’s where the optimism ends. Roughly 49 million Americans remained food insecure.

Food insecurity, defined by the Census Bureau and Agriculture Department as the condition of having limited or uncertain access to adequate food, remains concentrated in rural America. Feeding America’s data lets the group make county-by-county comparisons. The 10 percent of American counties with the highest rates of food insecurity was more rural in the 2012 data than it was in the 2011 numbers. After accounting for just 48 percent of the hungriest counties in 2011, rural America now makes up 52 percent of the 2012 pool. 

The disparity between the hungriest tenth of American counties and the rest is stark. Food insecurity rates average 14 percent across the bottom 90 percent of counties, but that figure leaps to 23 percent in the 324 hungriest ones. The hungriest counties are concentrated in the south and southeastern United States, with less than 12 percent of the group coming from outside those regions. At 22.3 percent, Mississippi has the highest rate of food insecurity of any state. 

But the much lower rates of food insecurity in high-population metropolitan areas could obscure the fact that huge raw numbers of people face hunger in places with lower rates. The top four counties with the highest number of hungry people mirror the list of the country’s largest cities. Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Houston claim a combined 4,595,780 food-insecure persons, yet have food insecurity rates far below those of the rural counties where residents face a higher probability of hunger.

More than a quarter of the nation’s food-insecure people earn too much money to qualify for government assistance yet are still unable to provide adequate food for their families throughout the year, according to the report. Those same programs have faced wave upon wave of funding cuts even as private food charities have said repeatedly that they do not have the capacity to pick up the government’s slack.

T'would be folly ...

Now that the golden orb has four hundred fifty times circled in the azure dome since appeared on the British isle that wondrous bard whose words an ornament to our native tongue remain, t'would folly be to lack a day particular to imitate his flowing and flawless speech. That the Windy City's head should so proclaim seems most unlike, yet in troth, so he has done in portentous and potent proclamation, herewith. So let us, cousins mine and dear, attempt that speech that charmed witch-hunting Jacob in his royal day.

There are many odd holidays, but Talk like Shakespeare Day takes the prize for oddest holiday of the month of April. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared this day a holiday to encourage citizens to express themselves by using Shakespeare as an influence. Talk like Shakespeare Day is on Wednesday, April 23.

A little more history on this holiday further explains that since Shakespeare’s birth date was never recorded, scholar’s studies indicate that April 23, 1564 is a very close approximation. How did they get this date? Shakespeare’s baptism date was recorded to be on April 26, and during that time it was customary to baptize a child three days after birth.

On this day, make sure to bring out your inner poet! Need some help in practicing the Shakespeare lingo? Here is a little cheat sheet: You is Thou, Men are Sirrah, Ladies are Mistress, and Ya’ll is Ye. Also, instead of ‘Friends’ say ‘Cousins’ and instead of ‘That’s cray’ say ‘T’would be folly!’ Check out Talk Like Shakespeare’s official site for a longer lesson.

A fun little fact: Shakespeare died exactly 52 years after birth on April 23, 1616. How young! It’s truly remarkable all of the work he did throughout his life. If you like this holiday, you might like Talk Like a Pirate Day, coming up in September.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Catch a falling star, and put it in your pocket ...

I remember once when we were returning to Huntsville from visiting my grandparents, I saw meteors for the first time. We were driving through the countryside, and there were not big city lights to interfere. It was August and the Perseid meteor shower. If you have children, it is worth taking them out somewhere to look up into the sky to be amazed.

What does it say about us that ...

I attended a workshop not long ago where we were told that in states where texting while driving has been outlawed, the rate of accidents caused by texting has increased. Why? Because people don't stop texting; they just hold their phones down low so as to hide the fact that they are doing it. Then they have to take their eyes off the road so they can look down.
Texting while driving has become a greater hazard than drinking and driving among teenagers who openly acknowledge sending and reading text messages while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
The number of teens who are dying or being injured as a result of texting while driving has skyrocketed as mobile device technology has advanced. Researchers at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park estimate more than 3,000 annual teen deaths nationwide from texting and 300,000 injuries.
The habit now surpasses the number of teens who drink and drive -- a hazard that has been on a dramatic decline in recent years, researchers say
An estimated 2,700 young people die each year as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol and 282,000 are treated in emergency rooms for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Andrew Adesman and a team of Cohen investigators found that while driving between September 2010 and December 2011, among 8,947 teenagers aged 15-18 nationwide, an estimated 49 percent of boys admitted to texting while driving compared with 45 percent of girls.
Texting also increased with age. Only 24 percent of 15-year-olds tapped out messages while driving, compared with 58 percent of 18-year-olds, the data showed. "A person who is texting can be as impaired as a driver who is legally drunk," said Adesman, noting that a texting driver is distracted from the movement of traffic and the function of his or her own vehicle.
The new data are in sharp contrast to findings about drinking and driving among teens. The CDC reported last fall that alcohol use among teen drivers has decreased by 54 percent since 1991. Texting, however, has quickly grown in the last five to seven years, Adesman said. "Fifty percent of high school students of driving age acknowledge texting while driving," said Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohe
"When we compared states where there are no laws in effect [barring texting while operating a moving vehicle] and states where there are laws on the books, we found there was no difference in their responses," Adesman said. "Clearly, the laws are not effective."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Nuns with guns

This photo reminds me that we once found a letter from the head of the Order in Rome (dating form the 1930s?) saying that all the friars were to turn over their guns to the new local superior within three days of his taking office. No one knew what was behind it. Maybe it reflected a European's idea that America was still the Wild West.

Aggie Muster

Aggie Muster is a time-honored tradition at Texas A&M University which celebrates the camaraderie of the school while remembering the lives of Aggies -- as students there are called -- who have died, specifically those in the past year. Muster officially began on April 21, 1922 as a day for remembrance of fellow Aggies. Muster ceremonies today take place in approximately 320 locations globally. The largest muster ceremony occurs in Reed Arena, on the Texas A&M campus. The "Roll Call for the Absent" commemorates Aggies, former and current students, who died that year. Aggies light candles, and friends and families of Aggies who died that year answer “here” when the name of their loved one is “called”. Campus muster also serves as a 50th year class reunion for the corresponding graduating class. Some non-campus muster ceremonies do not include the pageantry of the campus ceremony, and might consist simply of a barbecue. 

I am not an Aggie myself, but my nephew is a graduate of A&M and my brother is a huge Aggie fan.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Yea, verily!

I am happy to announce that I have finished my work on the project I was doing for the Carmelite publications office. I am about to e-mail it to the editorial director as an Easter gift.

I have also let them know that I will not be free to take on other projects in the foreseeable future. I want to get back to my own writing, and -- let's be honest -- to goofing off. At the end of May, my library work will go back to one day a week. So having finished the Carmelite project and cutting back on the library work, I expect to have more free time to do what I want to do.

Tom and I are thinking about taking a short trip to Door County, which is a peninsula jutting out into Lake Michigan. It is the largest county in Wisconsin by total area and has 298 miles of shoreline. Locals and tourists alike refer to the area as the "Cape Cod of the Midwest." Tom has been there a number of times, but I have not. We are thinking of going after the weather is warmer and spend a couple of nights mid-week to get a better rate on lodging. Looks like there are a ton of fantastic places to stay and I am pleasantly surprised that the costs are not prohibitive, even during the summer season.

Details as developments warrant.

Friday, April 18, 2014

In honor of all those chocolate bunnies out there ...

  • "There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate." - Linda Grayson
  • "All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." - Charles M. Schulz
  • "The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain." - Thomas Jefferson
  • "I never met a chocolate I didn't like." - Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • "My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M's and a chocolate cake. I feel better already." - Dave Barry
  • "Chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted power. It is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits." - Baron Justus von Liebig
  • "Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies." - John Q. Tullius
  • "Make a list of important things to do today. At the top of your list, put "eat chocolate." Now, you'll get at least one thing done today." - Gina Hayes
  • "Any sane person loves chocolate." - Bob Greene
  • "Strength is the ability to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of those pieces." - Judith Viorst
  • "The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate!" - Terry Moore
  • "Chocolate: Here today ... Gone today!" - Anonymous
  • "Life is like a box of chocolates ... You never know what you're gonna get." - Forrest Gump
  • "There’s more to life than chocolate, but not right now." - Anonymous
  • "There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles." - Anonymous
  • "Chocolate is nature’s way of making up for Mondays." - Anonymous
  • "God gave the angels wings, and he gave humans chocolate." - Anonymous

For all who are celebrating this weekend

I want to wish all my friends who may be celebrating Easter this weekend a happy and safe holiday. 

Although I grew up in a Christian home, our church did not celebrate Easter Sunday as a religious holiday, the idea being that the resurrection is celebrated each week on Sunday. [Actually, the Western Catholic tradition has a similar notion in that Sundays are always feasts, even during Lent.] Similarly, we did not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. We did celebrate Easter and Christmas as essentially secular holidays with some religious overtones, I suppose. 

I notice that this year, Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter on the same day as most Western Christians. However and whatever your family is celebrating, be it Easter or Passover or nothing at all, may all be well with you.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Malta is a southern European country in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km (50 mi) south of Sicily, 284 km (176 mi) east of Tunisia and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya. The country covers just over 316 km (122 sq mi), making it one of the world's smallestand most densely populated countries. The capital of Malta is Valletta. Malta has two official languages: Maltese and English.

Malta's location as a naval base has given it great strategic importance throughout history, and a succession of powers including the Phoenicians, Romans, Moorish, Normans, Aragonese, Habsburg Spain, Knights of St. John, French and the British have ruled the islands. Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a republic in 1974. Malta was admitted to the United Nations in 1964 and to the European Union in 2004; in 2008, it became part of the eurozone.

Malta has a long Christian legacy and is an Apostolic see. According to the Acts of the Apostles,St. Paul was shipwrecked on Malta. Catholicism is the official religion in Malta.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jesus draws a line in the sand

John 8
1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Snow, Passover, sorrow

Today we woke to over four inches of snow. The forecast mentioned snow showers or snow mixed with rain -- but this is what out backyard looked like at seven this morning.

It goes without saying, I suppose, that Tom had drained the snow thrower and put it away ...
More scattered snow is expected during the day with temps down to 19 tonight, but by Wednesday it is supposed to be back in the 50's.

Passover begins tonight at sundown, so Chag sa'may'ach to all those who celebrate. A special blessing to Tom's daughter Rebecca and her husband David as they celebrate Passover for the first time as parents of twins.

How sad and shameful that this story is in the news:
A 14-year old boy and his grandfather are among the three shot dead yesterday, on the eve of Passover, in a Kansas City suburb during an anti-Semitic shooting rampage. Police quickly arrested a suspect, 73-year old Frazier Glenn Miller (also known as Frazier Glenn Cross) of Aurora, Missouri. Miller is a former leader — known as a “Grand Dragon” — of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and reportedly yelled “heil Hitler” from the back of the police car after being arrested.
Miller yesterday allegedly shot and killed three people in two separate areas of Overland Park, Kansas, about two miles apart. He reportedly used a shotgun or semi-automatic rifle, and may also have used a handgun in the acts. Witnesses report he first asked them if they were Jewish and then shot if they said “yes,” though not all the victims were Jewish.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

So live ...

I have mentioned before liking William Cullen Bryant's poem about death, "Thanatopsis." The final stanza says:

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged by his dungeon; but, sustain'd and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

 So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged by his dungeon; but, sustain'd and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.


So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged by his dungeon; but, sustain'd and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

This church sign reminded me of it, but it also made me smile.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ya think?


This is an excerpt from a World Wide Words, newsletter I get every week about words and such.
A traditional English riddle runs
Though not a cow I have horns;
Though not an ass I carry a pack-saddle;
And wherever I go I leave silver behind me.
The answer, in a curious little southern English dialect word, sadly long since defunct, is hodmandod — in everyday language, a snail.
Before a snail was a hodmandod, it was a dodman, whose origin is puzzling, but may be related to the rare word dod for a rounded, bare hilltop; this comes from the Middle English dodden, to make the top of something bare, an activity you will agree definitely needs its own verb. The snail’s shell might have been fancifully compared to a bare hilltop. Dodman became extended through what Malcolm Jones described in Dialect in Wiltshire as a “childish, part-rhyming reduplication” to make hoddy-doddy and hodmandod. But dodman has outlived its extended relative and is still to be found in Norfolk dialect.
The earliest example of hodmandod on record is in a work by the famously arrogant and pedantic Elizabethan lawyer and writer Gabriel Harvey. When he moved to London from his home town of Saffron Walden (where saffron was once widely cultivated), he managed to get involved in an interminable series of controversial exchanges with some of the best pamphleteers of his time, including John Lyly and Thomas Nashe. Gabriel Harvey responded to a scornful putdown of his brother Thomas by Nashe, describing the latter in crude insults as
... the son of a mule, a raw grammarian, a brabbling sophister, a counterfeit crank, a stale rake-hell, a piperly rimer, a stump-worn railer, a dodkin author, whose two swords are like the horns of a hodmandod; whose courage [is] like the fury of a gad-bee; and whose surmounting bravery, like the wings of a butterfly.
Pierce’s Supererogation, or a New Praise of the Old Ass, by Gabriel Harvey, 1593. The spelling is modernised, but not the vocabulary; brabbling meant hair-splitting.
Somehow, perhaps through a mental association with a hunchback, the word also came to mean a deformed person:
His head was thrice broader than his body, which fortunate accident had made such a hodmandod one of the greatest philosophers of this age; but it had also given the appearance of one of those rude and grotesque figures which German wit carves out for a humorous pair of nutcrackers.
The Spirit of the Public Journals, 1807.
Some writers have confused dodman with dudman, a scarecrow. The latter looks like a mere variation but its senses show that it must have a different origin, though nobody knows what it is. We do know that it comes from duds in the sense of clothing, which came to refer particularly to rags and tatters. Duds is also the source of dud in the sense of something counterfeit, useless or broken.
I knew that dod referred to a bare-topped hill. This is a picture of Dodd Hill, near the border between England and Scotland.

There is a theory that Dodd became our family name because our original ancestor was a bald man.

As for the dod-duds thing, one of my nicknames in high school was Milk Dud (Mike Dodd) or more commonly just Dud. It sounds insulting, but if memory serves me, it was an affectionate name and didn't bother me. For a number of years, I signed my letters to high school friends as Dud.

On an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper says that Milk Duds are the most apologetic of the boxed candies. I'm sorry.

The physics of editing: Not Schrödinger's cat

I mentioned that I made some progress yesterday on the project I am doing for the Carmelites. This morning I reflected on why it is easy to keep going once I start, but getting going can be a challenge. Actually, I was thinking about this in terms of my work revising the novel I drafted back in November, but it applies to the Carmelite project as well.

So I thought of Newton's laws of motion:

Newton's First Law:  Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed.

Once I am working, it is easy to keep at it. When I have stopped, however, it is hard to start up again. Even if, like the cat in the picture, I am not resting in great comfort.

Newton’s Second Law: The alteration of motion is ever proportional to the motive force impressed; and is made in the direction of the right line in which that force is impressed.

When I engage in procrastination by avoidance behavior, it takes effort to move that energy in the direction I want to go. And maybe it is easier (and less dangerous) if I come at it sideways, but I have to come at it.

Newton’s Third Law: To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.

My laziness opposes my working as much as my working is opposed to my laziness. I know the law implies that they are always equal, but my laziness often seems more powerful.
 Unless and until I get the work rolling. Then the first law helps me stay in motion.

So this morning I decided I would do two pages on the Carmelite project. Two pages. It was not hard to generate the enrergy needed to start that.

And of course, I got through eight pages before I realized it.

Eight pages is not a lot, I grant you. But it puts me eight pages ahead of my scheduled output! 

And finally, if that was too confusing, editors can always take refuge in the words of the immortal Calvin: