Monday, December 17, 2007
Frankly, I've been in a bit of a funk. When I woke up this morning, I lay in bed staring at the clock long after I should have been up and on my way in to school. "I'm depressed," I realized, in an oddly narrative moment of clarity. "This whole thing is really depressing."
Anyway, so I got up and came to school, and spent a rewarding morning typing up a letter of reccomendation for one of my favorite students. Then, when she stopped by to pick it up, she gave me a present:
And if I didn't know it already, it's great to be reminded: teaching is the best job, ever. Um, I mean, best job ever, teaching is.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
In all the years we've lived in San Francisco, we've never had a tree. We always go home for Christmas, we've reasoned, so what's the point? But we've missed it, and home is sort of like an electron or whatever -- it's wherever it is when you notice it, but it could very well be someplace else simultaneously. Plus, this wee one's not even three feet tall, and was less than $20. How could we resist?
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
My mom and I both like Ezra Pound, my mom because she's smarter than I am, and gets the classical allusions and whatnots at some essential gut level, and me because I hope to be as smart as my mother someday. Because when I was eleven, his words held everything that was wonderful and hopeful about both the future and the past together in one small book.
And sometimes he's just pretty:
In a Station of the Metro
by Ezra Pound
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Anyway. Happy birthday, mom!
Monday, December 03, 2007
Finally, at 3:00, I took lunch. I ordered some mushroom soup from a nearby deli, ran a series of errands, and rushed back to the office to proofread transcripts in preperation for a big-deal deadline tomorrow.
As I absentmindedly slurped my soup, I noticed that it tasted kind of strange. Something strong and unfamiliar. I poked at one of the mushrooms. It didn't look like a mushroom. Was that a piece of meat? Could there be meat in the mushroom soup? But they always have a veggie option at Bi Rite, and the mushroom couldn't have had meat in it, because the only other soup today had been.... crap. Beef and freakin' Barley. Beef! And Barley!
I've been a vegetarian since I was eight. My stomach is so not happy right now. Never mind the poor cow.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Speaking of which, I don't know why, but NaBloPoMo never really clicked for me this year (I've been experiencing that with a lot of things, actually). I don't know if it's because of how busy I've been, or our new living situation (where every night is hang-out-with-the-housemates night), or the turmoil at work, but I haven't felt so creatively engaged lately. Looking back at last November, with all my talk of poets and poetry (and all my unblogged memories of reading and such), I can't help but wonder where my mind is these days.
Anyway. I'm off to an opening at The Lab with Brian and Hope (I can't seem to link directly to the Post Postcard show we're going to see, but it's on the front page tonight). Our freinds David Faulk and Michael Johnstone are both involved in the show, and I'm hoping things'll be cheap enough for me to to some Xmas shopping!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
If it weren't for the coughing and fever, this would be the awesomest thing ever.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
the way you cook a small fish.
If you keep control by following the Way,
troubled spirits won't act up.
They won't lose their immaterial strength,
but they wont harm people with it,
nor will wise souls come to harm.
And so, neither harming the other,
these powers will come together in unity.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
I really haven't left the house all day, except to go to Walgreens (and then take the long way home, to avoid the agressive panhandly lady), and to go meet Brian (and then I bought sequins! Because that's what you do when you're out in the world and high on Dayquil).
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
All week, I've been planning on making the same stuffed pumpkin recipe I made two years ago:
It's yummy and delicious, and looks like something a fairy godmother Martha Stewart might make. Unfortunately, it also takes the better part of a day to make.
that's one big pumpkin
So, this morning, after spending a few hours agonizing over the fresh toasted breadcrumbs I needed to be toasting and the pumpkin flesh I really needed to start seasoning, I finally screwed my courage to the sticking post and asked Brian and Hope if they'd mind stuffed pumpkin for Saturday dinner, since we were already making salad and tofurkey and mashed white stuff and pork loin and beer bread and it's just the three of us and Jason, who'll be coming from another dinner. And they were all, "Duh, can we take a walk now?" And so we did.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Me: Do you think he's a Man in the Yellow Hat fetishist?
Me: That man (points exaggeratedly with eyes). Do you think he's a Man in the Yellow Hat fetishist.
B: Because he's got a hat, he's a man in hat fetishist?
Me: Man in the Yellow Hat. Didn't you ever read Curious George?
B: I'm familiar with the concept, but not really, no.
Me: Well, the Man in the Yellow Hat is his friend. He's an explorer. He finds him in the jungle.
B: Curious George finds the man, or the man finds George?
Me: They kind of find each other. And then the man takes George home and then he drinks ether and paints a jungle scene on his bedroom wall.
B: So you think because he's a man in a yellow hat, he's a Man in the Yellow Hat fetishist? Does it work that way?
Me: If he was wearing leather chaps, we'd say he was a leather fetishist. Ergo, man in yellow hat, Man in the Yellow Hat Fetish.
B: But we wouldn't say the man in leather chaps was a Man in the Leather Chaps fetishist.
Me: (disgruntled silence)
Me: You're an obtuse dingbat fetishist.
B: (wraps his arms around me) Which is why I like you so much.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I've been researching our pub quiz options. Because really, what else am I going to do with my time? Stuff a pumpkin?
Monday, November 19, 2007
We waited in line for about an hour. One guy, the Not Phone Guy, was helping other customers. The other guy, the Phone Guy, was assisting this one customer who spent an eon and a half filling out cell phone paperwork, and then decided he wanted an iPod nano (and grinned back at us, as if to say "Look at how charmingly impulsive I am! Wheee!").
Anyway. Finally, The Not Phone Guy came over to see if he could help us. I showed him my phone, and explained that I'd bought it there less than a month ago. "Oh, he said. We can't do anything with that. You need to take it to the Cingular store downtown. They can repair it there." And then we asked Phone Guy, and he turned it on and off a few times, and then took the batterey out, and then said "Yeah, we can't fix that here. You need to go downtown." And they gave me directions, and that was that.
Anyway. Then I went to work and had a crappy day.
Finally, at about 6:30, I left the office and got on BART so that I could head downtown to the Cingular store. Ten minutes later, I find the store and walk in. About two seconds later the guy told me "Yeah, I can't fix that. You'll need to return that to the store where you bought it."
And then it took me about an hour to get home. And I forgot my freakin' book at work.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
When I was a kid, I had all sorts of rules about how Christmas had to be (some completely my own, some family traditions. All clung to with OCD-like intensity). The tree is decorated on or after the 4th Sunday in advent (yes, even if that's Christmas eve). Christmas morning starts before sunrise (yeah, sorry about that guys). And Christmas music (including Handel's messiah) is to be listened to in the advent-to-epiphany window alone.
What a little tyrant I was! Time to get over that, stat!
P.S. Have you heard Low's Christmas album? Frakkin awesome!
The movie left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, jeez that was gory -- and did we really need all the blood and spears and bile in our face (I mean that literally -- this was, after all, 3-D). And I often felt like the immersive sense that the 3-D glasses created mereley compensated for the overall flatness of the graphics. And don't get me started on the changes made in the storyline (mostly because I don't know what to do with 'em. I can see the reasoning behind the choices made overall, but... huh).
But still, Grendel? Was freaking creepy, man.
Friday, November 16, 2007
"Despite the clear advantage of alternating current — it can be transmitted long distances far more economically than direct current — direct current has taken decades to phase out of Manhattan because the early backbone of New York’s electricity grid was built by Mr. Edison’s company, which had a running head start in the first decade before Mr. Tesla and Mr. Westinghouse demonstrated the potential of alternating current with the Niagara Falls power project. (Among the customers of Thomas Edison’s Pearl Street power plant on that first day was The New York Times, which observed that to turn on its lights in the building, “no matches were needed.”)
But direct current clearly became uneconomical, as the short distances that it could be transmitted would have required a power station every mile or less, according to Joe Cunningham, an engineering historian. Thus alternating current in New York began in the outskirts — Queens, Bronx, Upper Manhattan and the suburbs.
The direct current conversion in Lower Manhattan started in 1928, and an engineer then predicted that it would take 45 years, according to Mr. Cunningham. “An optimistic prediction since we still have it now,” he said.
The man who is cutting the link today at 10 East 40th Street is Fred Simms, a 52-year veteran of the company. Why him?
“He’s our closest link to Thomas Edison,” joked Bob McGee, a Con Ed spokesman."
via boing bong
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
"It's like we have this trick scale... Here's how that scale works: Self-doubt and negative feedback weigh heavily on the mind, but praise barely registers. You attribute your failures to a stable, inner core of ineptness. Meanwhile, you discount your successes as accidental or, worse, as just so many confidence jobs. Every positive is a false positive."
And the worst part is? It's annoying. I become annoying, socially inept. I can't trust praise. I can't trust people. And so I end up this stuttering misanthrope, rushing out the backdoor after I'm done reading, afraid to confront, or even acknowledge, my audience.
Stupid cat germs.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
This is such a marvelous surprise! I mean, yeah, I am aware that I signed up for Tricia's blogger swap. And (coincidentally), I even picked out a gift for my own blogger swap buddy today. But look! Presents in the mail! Can anyone ever really anticipate the amazing fun that is?
My very awesome and just-what-I-wanted gift is from Anne over at Archie's Room. Thanks Anne! I'm rather fetishistic about bookmarks, and these are just perfect. And thank you, Tricia, for setting the whole thing up.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I was still a bit lightheaded on my way to work. Which, combined with an extra long wait for a walklight, contributed to the following impulse buy:
I've been needing goloshes anyway, and these have been calling to me every time I've passed Nisa's windows for the past week or so. Galosh galosh! Bring on the puddles!
Monday, November 05, 2007
And if walking's good for anything (besides keeping what's left of my girlish figure intact), it's ruminating on world issues and self-betterment. Tonight, walking home, I had such plans! Beer bread! Salad! Poems to write! Courses to plan! Laundry to do! Blog posts! Chores!
But, oh, home! Home is where my friends are, and wine, and snuggly dogs and rotten cats. How can I write when there's tea to be made? How can I work when there's socks and dogs and minestrone?
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Eventually we escaped out the back way. It led to an unpaved alleyway lined with walled gardens. We were welcomed into one of them, and offered water to drink. I put a small dog in my waterglass to make sure the water was safe to drink (the puppy was wet and licked my nose, so I woke up).
Soon after, I fell back to sleep, only to wake up with a sense of urgency. I'd been willing something to happen so hard in my dream that I'd half sat up in bed. I remembered the dream so clearly then, but now I can't remember a thing, except that I was sick, and when I coughed my skin would fade slightly, and you could see flowers wilting underneath.
(apologies for the low-quality image up there -- the cell phone camera's not great with the zoom).
The only downside is that everytime I walk over to Haight St, I end up with this song stuck in my head.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
So, new month, new rules. To start with, this is so last month:
Word is, we're getting paid tomorrow. And the Friday after. And so on, forever and ever, until our great-grandkids finally suck dry the teat of institutional solvency.
Okay, maybe not. But we're at least getting paid tomorrow, and should be paid only five days late for the payperiod after that.
It's been a rough couple weeks, though, I gotta say. Not so much the financial strain (though my bank account, like many of my coworkers, is currently overdrawn due to automatic payments going through post-non-payday). Rather, it's the emotional impact of not getting paid that continues to sting. I'd never realized what a capitalist I am before, but jeez. Not getting paid casts such a pall over my workday.
Anyway. Here's to new months! New beginnings! New posts! Paychecks!
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
So, my question is, how much longer to we keep on keepin' on? At what point does "I'm still here for the students" become "I'm giving the students a false sense of stability by staying"?
I feel irresponsible talking about this in so pubic a forum, but at what point does stiff-upper-lipping cease being useful and start being harmful? At what point can we just shut the doors and start mourning?
*Just to be clear: it's been a week since payday came and went. It's been more than four weeks since we were last paid.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
There are two busses I can take on these late-sleeper mornings: the J and the 22. The 22 drops me off in the heart of the Mission, 2 blocks up a busy, grouchy, pee-smelling street from where I work. Last week, I spent the entire 10-minute ride trying not to listen to the mind-numbingly vile coversation. I don't really like the 22 right now. The other bus, the J (really an above ground train) drops me three blocks away from work, four blocks if I opt for the scenic route, as I did this morning. It's worth the extra five minutes.
(photo taken on my new pink cell phone)
The train drops me in the upper corner of Dolores Park. Most mornings it and the city are encased in a mochi-skin of fog, and some days there's a great dane gallumphing around in the mist, looking for all the world like some mythic beastie.
It's been a rough month here at work. Our paychecks are a week late as of today, with no word on when we can expect them. Students are still waiting for their financial aid awards. Everyone is tense, pinched and anxious and fragile. And there's so much work to be done.
Anyway. It's my lunch break now. I'm off to sit in the park.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
The Fart Party (Cartoons!)
The Comics Curmudgeon (Blog about cartoons!)
Dykes to Watch Out For (Cartoonist's Blog!)
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
And it was great to just hang in the studio all day, chatting with friends and meeting people and just spending time with Brian's work. But today, now, sitting on the couch with books, and tea, getting ready to watch Buffy and toddle off to bed, I'm remembering how nice it is not to be busy, not to have deadlines looming, how nice it is to just be us.
Humph. Too bad I have to work tomorrow.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
This weekend (October 20 & 21), from 11am-6pm, Brian will
be opening up his studio as part of ArtSpan's citywide Open Studios (which you can read all about here).
For those of you not familiar with Brian's work, he sculpts these big wood panels into a sort of collage-y melange of different carving styles (I've put an image of one of 'em to the left over there). I'm really not up to describing them (and they're the sort of thing that you really should see in person), but if you want to get an idea of what I'm talking about, you can visit his website.
Anyway, his studio's at 2221 15th St. (between Noe and Castro). It's in
the basement -- the door is on the right side of the garage. There'll be
free food & drinks! Art! Artists! It'll be rad.
Feel free to email me if you have any questions or would like more
Hope to see y'all there,
Thursday, October 18, 2007
by Micah Ballard
From the burial
grounds of Old Metairie
& hallways thru pyramids
with unnumbered bones
to the 3 St. Louises
& live oaks of Cypress Grove
onward we carry
whatever has traced our
way. So might the soil
turn over -- Apparitions
come forth, this path
hath only one following
one way to get away.
East of these walls
& never to be returned
let it be said
the oath has been told
sold for the taking. Not
again will these vaults
faces hide, never
to end their dens
which do not stop
but drop to that final place
where all is erased.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Invisible and silent -- the spoor
Of the polluted man.
The smell of his mother's womb clings to his heels
And sweats from his instep.
Plain as the blood-slashed route of a wounded stag
In the noses of the hounds.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
1. People not saying "hi" back.
2. Machines breaking for no apparent reason.
3. The phrase "please advise."
4. Lactose intolerance.
5. Intractable schedules.
6. Klingon foreheads.
7. Expired warranties.
8. Bank fees.
9. Stern answering machine greetings.
10. Free-floating anxiety
11. Ambiguous instructions.
12. Quotation marks used for emphasis (ex: please "do not" destroy the English language).
13. Global Dimming.
14. That orange juice is not available on tap in my office.
15. Hard and fast deadlines on 24 hours notice.
16. That hating Mondays was co-opted years ago by a cartoon cat.
17. Being 'not really sick'-sick.
18. Un proofread 'open letters'
19. People who say 'please' like it's an insult.
20. Stupid hair.
21. Lists in lieu of real blog entries.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
So, how is it Sunday night already? As a matter of fact, how is it October? 2007?? And omigosh, I'm 30? When did that happen?*
Oh, I'm feeling chronologically misplaced tonight. I'm listening to a CD that I listened to a lot when I was about, I dunno, 20? I'd just dropped out of out of college, was living at home, and kept having dreams that my teeth were falling out. I wore a lot of black and had a stuffed crow named Great Aunt Ponsomby. And I was taking classes at the Museum School. That was fun.
Wait, what? I'm 30?
* April. It happened in April. I'm a little slow.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
The beach is bordered by steep cliffs, popular with hang gliders and red-tailed hawks. Sand streaches on for miles, bounded by shining sea and veiny rock, frolicky dogs and their sea-contemplative humans as far as the eye can see.
Halfway through our walk, we joined a cluster of dog walkers and baby toters who had stopped to peer at the cliff face above them. A man and his dog were clinging to a ledge more than three quarters up, the dog having apparently fallen from the path above. Now both were struggling against the sandy rock, the man pushing and the dog scrabbling, every inch of progress sending tumbles of pebble and rock down the side of the cliff.
Watching the man and his dog struggling in the hot sun, unable to do anything except watch and pray, I said to Hope, "I bet he's never felt more alone in his life."
Hope squinted up. "Or maybe he's never felt more alive."
And we watched until the man and his pushed their way to the very top and, the path beneath their feet again, bounded away.
Monday, October 08, 2007
1. I'm absolutely addicted to web sites that present first hand accounts of paranormal encounters.
2. I don't believe in ghosts (but I'm scared to pieces at the prospect of seeing one).
3. When I'm having trouble falling asleep, daydreaming about the toast I'm going to have for breakfast puts me right out (anything to get closer to the toast!).
4. I never kill bugs intentionally.
5. Well, mosquitos get one warning 'shoo' before I smack 'em.
6. Luckily, there are hardly any mosquitoes in San Francisco.
7. I can't spell 'mosquitoes' for the life of me.
8. I can't spell the name 'Michael' either. The 'a' and 'e' always confuse me.
9. I had a crush on a boy named Michael Fuller in fifth grade. Said crush manifested itself in constant bickering.
10. I think he liked me, too.
11. For years, I believed that I'd reached my peak in 5th grade, and that I'd never be as confident, funny, or full of potential again.
12. It's a gloomy twelve year old that believes her best years are behind her.
13. And an even gloomier twenty-one year old.
14. 'Twelve' is one of my favorite words.
15. I have reoccurring dreams that take place in a library.
16. Or sometimes a church.
17. Or sometimes the blocks surrounding my childhood home.
18. The geography of my dream worlds is fairly consistent -- If I dream of a down stairway or a pathway this week, it'll be there next week when I need it.
19. I love dreaming. I'll sleep til noon if my dreams are good.
20. I always feel guilty when I sleep in. Said guilt manifests itself in grouchiness.
21. I drempt this morning that I was hiding out in the belfry of a gothic cathederal (sanctuary!!). I slept til 10:30.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
"I am in favor of making one's life an open book. If everybody knows you are considering going out with So-and-so, they can give you the dirt. The other option is to misstep alone and suffer silently. If everybody knows you just smoked crack, they may excuse you from the consequesnces of your behaviour. We're all supposed to be understanding now, but you have to give us a chance to understand something first. So do tell.
However, when personal information becomes a weapon, as it is on the East Coast and perhaps Japan, the social construct is not correct. The best reaction is to form a noise band and just scream and scream (check out Sick of It All, Masonna, the Boredoms). I mean it, go see them.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
I really wish I was leaving for a weekend in the woods (though that would interfere with my post-every-day schedule). It's just that I need space, and quiet, and maybe a little dose of sanity. Birdies chirpin' wouldn't hurt, either.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
But maybe it does spring from somewhere. There's such a tension on campus these days. In today's staff meeting a free-floating accusation that some people aren't pulling their weight hovered over the room alongside all our overstuffed workloads, pushing everyone's brows down until we all looked angry.
Plus my office smells funny.
I hope I didn't infringe anything.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
(From Basic Teachings of the Buddha: A New Translation and Compilation, with a Guide to Reading the Texts, by Glenn Wallis
Parayana Suta; Samyuttankiaya:
The Buddha spoke as follows:
I will teach the destination and the path leading to the destination. Listen to what I say. What is the destination? The eradication of infatuation, the eradication of hostility, and the eradication of delusion are what is called the destination. And what is the path leading to the destination? Present-moment awareness directed toward the body. This awareness is what is called the path leading to the destination.
In this way, I have taught you the destination and the path leading to the destination. That which should be done out of compassion by a caring teacher who desires the welfare of his students, I have done for you.
There are secluded places. Meditate, do not be negligent! Don't have regrets later! This is my instruction to you.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Brian's encouraging me to start posting my drawings up here. I have a few projects that I've been working on (like Ovid's Metamophoses, narrated by an octopus!), but as I haven't yet gotten around to scanning 'em, here's a little MS Paint self-portrait I did on my lunch break today.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Since Georgia was born last December, she's been the star of a series of (mostly half-remembered) dreams. They spring from all sorts of semi-concious desires, from my frustration in having not yet met li'l G (unless you count prenatal hellos directed at her mother's belly), to my own ambivilant half-formed desires for a wee one of my own.
More often than not, the dreams just consist of sitting and playing with G, or hanging out with a toddler her and Tricia in a future playground someplace. Here are the exceptions:
1. I'm working on an photo-illustrated version of 'Snow White,' with Georgia in the title role (she's a shoo-in for the part. Seriously, check out that complexion). I engage in a long internal debate over whether Prince Charming should have Down's Syndrome, like Georgia, or not. Strangely, in dream state, I don't seem to notice that G's a bit young for princes (Edit: or princesses!) of any stripe.
2. I'm catsitting for a friend when I realize all of a sudden that it's not cats I'm watching, but Georgia. Soon after, I give birth to my own baby, identical to Georgia in every way, excepting the fact that she can play the trombone.
Now, technically, there are enough hours in the day to get everything done. But my brain just can't stay in work mode long enough to make it happen. I keep napping on Saturdays, or sinking into a novel for just a minute, only to look up and realize hours have passed.
This morning, walking to work, I kept looking longingly into coffee shops, at people sitting in the corner with a notebook and their coffee, at teachers reading stacks of papers and hipsters with their dork-glasses and laptops. O, for an unstructured day!
*I started this post a few minutes ago, was called away, and came back to an entry that said "Oh, I am just not god". What an awesome excuse for not getting stuff done. Thanks, id!
Friday, September 28, 2007
*I had a writing teacher in college who told me that 'not only.. but also...' constructions hardly ever work. But I love them so!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
So yeah. Slept from 1 til five today. Had crazy dreams, where main street Brattleboro was at the end of Haight St., and I was getting fitted for an much too small pair of shoes (were they denimn? Ew). Woke up to a cat fight, and to Hope's dog at the foot of my bed, mouth full of toys, wanting to wrassle.
Oh, my writing muscles are rusty.
Friday, September 07, 2007
His father was a naval officer, and Martin's favorite form of plat was floating his toy boats in the bathtub and torpedoiung them. Both parents had become frustrated with Martin because he consistently expelled his feces in his pants and not in the toilet. In desperation, they offered him twenty-five cents for every bowel movement he made in the toilet. Martin soon caluclated that it was not in his best interst to become toilet trained, because to do so would mean that he would ultimately lose money. Instead he would use the toilet for three days to earn the money. But the only way to keep the money flowing was to lose control periodically, and this he would do at home or at the homes of friends. One day, Martin's best friend'smother instisted that, at her house, he use the toilet. There she overheard him muttering to himself about Napoleon's battles. When he came out of the bathroom he informed her, "I'm Napoleon and Napoleon shits wherever he pleases!"
I am so cross-stiching "Napoleon shits wherever he pleases" on a sampler to go above the cat's litter box.
Friday, August 24, 2007
The 79 AD Eruption of Vesuvius
by Pliny the Younger (AD 61-113)
My dear Tacitus,
You ask me to write you something about the death of my uncle so that the account you transmit to posterity is as reliable as possible. I am grateful to you, for I see that his death will be remembered forever if you treat it. He perished in a devastation of the loveliest of lands, in a memorable disaster shared by peoples and cities, but this will be a kind of eternal life for him. Although he wrote a great number of enduring works himself, the imperishable nature of your writings will add a great deal to his survival. Happy are they, in my opinion, to whom it is given either to do something worth writing about, or to write something worth reading; most happy, of course, those who do both. With his own books and yours, my uncle will be counted among the latter. It is therefore with great pleasure that I take up, or rather take upon myself the task you have set me.
He was at Misenum in his capacity as commander of the fleet on the 24th of August, when between 2 and 3 in the afternoon my mother drew his attention to a cloud of unusual size and appearance. He had had a sunbath, then a cold bath, and was reclining after dinner with his books. He called for his shoes and climbed up to where he could get the best view of the phenomenon. The cloud was rising from a mountain-at such a distance we couldn't tell which, but afterwards learned that it was Vesuvius. I can best describe its shape by likening it to a pine tree. It rose into the sky on a very long "trunk" from which spread some "branches." I imagine it had been raised by a sudden blast, which then weakened, leaving the cloud unsupported so that its own weight caused it to spread sideways. Some of the cloud was white, in other parts there were dark patches of dirt and ash. The sight of it made the scientist in my uncle determined to see it from closer at hand.
He ordered a boat made ready. He offered me the opportunity of going along, but I preferred to study-he himself happened to have set me a writing exercise. As he was leaving the house he was brought a letter from Tascius' wife Rectina, who was terrified by the looming danger. Her villa lay at the foot of Vesuvius, and there was no way out except by boat. She begged him to get her away. He changed his plans. The expedition that started out as a quest for knowledge now called for courage. He launched the quadriremes and embarked himself, a source of aid for more people than just Rectina, for that delightful shore was a populous one. He hurried to a place from which others were fleeing, and held his course directly into danger. Was he afraid? It seems not, as he kept up a continuous observation of the various movements and shapes of that evil cloud, dictating what he saw.
Ash was falling onto the ships now, darker and denser the closer they went. Now it was bits of pumice, and rocks that were blackened and burned and shattered by the fire. Now the sea is shoal; debris from the mountain blocks the shore. He paused for a moment wondering whether to turn back as the helmsman urged him. "Fortune helps the brave," he said, "Head for Pomponianus."
At Stabiae, on the other side of the bay formed by the gradually curving shore, Pomponianus had loaded up his ships even before the danger arrived, though it was visible and indeed extremely close, once it intensified. He planned to put out as soon as the contrary wind let up. That very wind carried my uncle right in, and he embraced the frightened man and gave him comfort and courage. In order to lessen the other's fear by showing his own unconcern he asked to be taken to the baths. He bathed and dined, carefree or at least appearing so (which is equally impressive). Meanwhile, broad sheets of flame were lighting up many parts of Vesuvius; their light and brightness were the more vivid for the darkness of the night. To alleviate people's fears my uncle claimed that the flames came from the deserted homes of farmers who had left in a panic with the hearth fires still alight. Then he rested, and gave every indication of actually sleeping; people who passed by his door heard his snores, which were rather resonant since he was a heavy man. The ground outside his room rose so high with the mixture of ash and stones that if he had spent any more time there escape would have been impossible. He got up and came out, restoring himself to Pomponianus and the others who had been unable to sleep. They discussed what to do, whether to remain under cover or to try the open air. The buildings were being rocked by a series of strong tremors, and appeared to have come loose from their foundations and to be sliding this way and that. Outside, however, there was danger from the rocks that were coming down, light and fire-consumed as these bits of pumice were. Weighing the relative dangers they chose the outdoors; in my uncle's case it was a rational decision, others just chose the alternative that frightened them the least.
They tied pillows on top of their heads as protection against the shower of rock. It was daylight now elsewhere in the world, but there the darkness was darker and thicker than any night. But they had torches and other lights. They decided to go down to the shore, to see from close up if anything was possible by sea. But it remained as rough and uncooperative as before. Resting in the shade of a sail he drank once or twice from the cold water he had asked for. Then came an smell of sulfur, announcing the flames, and the flames themselves, sending others into flight but reviving him. Supported by two small slaves he stood up, and immediately collapsed. As I understand it, his breathing was obstructed by the dust-laden air, and his innards, which were never strong and often blocked or upset, simply shut down. When daylight came again 2 days after he died, his body was found untouched, unharmed, in the clothing that he had had on. He looked more asleep than dead.
Meanwhile at Misenum, my mother and I-but this has nothing to do with history, and you only asked for information about his death. I'll stop here then. But I will say one more thing, namely, that I have written out everything that I did at the time and heard while memories were still fresh. You will use the important bits, for it is one thing to write a letter, another to write history, one thing to write to a friend, another to write for the public.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
The sorting hat says that I belong in Ravenclaw!
Said Ravenclaw, "We'll teach those whose intelligence is surest."
Ravenclaw students tend to be clever, witty, intelligent, and knowledgeable.
Notable residents include Cho Chang and Padma Patil (objects of Harry and Ron's affections), and Luna Lovegood (daughter of The Quibbler magazine's editor).
Take the most scientific Harry Potter
Quiz ever created.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
One memory, however, stands out with crystal clarity: I am lying in my sleeping bag near the "Welcome to the Universe" exhibit, my feet too hot inside my pink Dr. Dentons, my perpetually clogged nostrils making intermittant whistling noises in the dark. It is after the offical lights out. I'm staring at a dimly lit model of the solar system, listening to whispers and giggles in the surrounding darkness. I can't remember what came before this moment, but I know that I have just done or said something incredibly stupid.
I make myself a promise: someday, I will be cool. I will wear a black leather jumpsuit with massive shoulderpads and I will have hair like Max Headroom. I will live in an apartment with high ceilings and concrete floors and a view of the city skyline, and I will never say anything stupid. And most importantly, I will invent a time travel machine. I will come back in time to this very moment, and I will tell myself what not to say, and what not to do, and I will never, ever, have to be embarrased by what a dork I used to be. Because I will have always been cool. This will never have happened.
The Nora of 2007, however, has much more in common with the post-nasal dripping, feety pajama wearing Nora of 1987 than she does with the plastic haired saviour of the future. So, in aid to any future time travellers (I'm not giving up on that leather jumpsuit yet!), I have compiled the following list in order to aid in distinuishing the 10-year-old and thirty-year-old me.
Mom nags me to clean my room.
Mom nags me to update my blog.
I have a disconcerting habit of humming to myself, and live at least half the time in an elaborate fantasy world.
I am tall for my age, with unkempt hair and a goofy grin I have trouble controlling.
I'm um, taller?
My career ambitions vaccillate between artist, advocate for the disenfranchised (mostly kittens), and mad scientist inventor.
I'm pretty sure I don't have the right degree to become a mad scientist inventor. I had this really great idea the other day for fried beer on a stick, though (you could deep fry beer ice cream! Then put it on a stick! Don't steal this idea!).
I have trouble finishing things, to the constant frustration of my parents, my teachers, and myself.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
|You Are The Fool|
You are a fascinating person who is way beyond the concerns of this world.
Young at heart, you are blissfully unaware of any dangers ahead.
You are a true wanderer - it has be difficult finding your place in this world.
Full of confidence, you are likely to take a leap of faith.
You are about to embark on a new phase in your life.
This may mean changing locations, jobs, friends, or love status.
You are open about what the future will bring, and free of worry.
You have made your peace with fate, and you're ready to start down your new path.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
by Denis Johnson
We mourn this senseless planet of regret,
droughts, rust, rain, cadavers
that can't tell us, but I promise
you one day the white fires
of Venus shall rage: the dead,
feeling that power, shall be lifted, and each
of us will have his resurrected one to tell him,
"Greetings. You will recover
or die. The simple cure
for everything is to destroy
all the stethosscopes that will transmit
silence occasionally. The remedy for loneliness
is in learning to admit
solitude as one admits
the bayonet: gracefully,
now that already
it pierces the heart.
Living one: you move among many
dancers and don't know which
you are the shadow of;
you want to kiss your own face in the mirror
but do not approach,
knowing you must not touch one
like that. Living
one, while Venus flares
O set the cereal afire,
O the refrigerator harboring things
that live on into death unchanged."
They know all about us on Andromeda,
they peek at us, they see us
in this world illumined and pasteled
phonily like a bus station,
they are with us when the streets fall down fraught
with laundromats and each of us
closes himself in his small
San Francisco without recourse.
They see you with your face of fingerprints
carrying your instructions in gloved hands
trying to touch things, and know you
for one despairing, trying to touch the curtains,
trying to get your reflection mired in alarm tape
past the window of this then that dark
closed business establishment.
The Andromedans hear your voice like distant amusement park music
converged on by ambulance sirens
and they understand everything.
They're on your side. They forgive you.
I want to turn for a moment to those my heart loves,
who are as diamonds to the Andromedans,
who shimmer for them, lovely and useless, like diamonds:
namely, those who take their meals at soda fountains,
their expressions lodged among the drugs
and sunglasses, each gazing down too long
into the coffee as though from a ruined balcony.
O Andromedans they don't know what to do
with themselves and so they sit there
until they go home where they lie down
until they get up, and you beyond the light years know
that if sleeping is dying, then waking
is birth, and a life
is many lives. I love them because they know how
to manipulate change
in the pockets musically, these whose faces the seasons
never give a kiss, these
who are always courteous to the faces
of presumptions, the presuming streets,
the hotels, the presumption of rain in the streets.
I'm telling you it's cold inside the body that is not the body,
lonesome behind the face
that is certainly not the face
of the person one meant to become.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
So, here's a poem to quiet me down:
In the Garden, by Anne Pierson Wiese
On the edge of the pond a great white
egret catches catches five-inch fish, it's trick neck
now a bone-china handle just thick
enough to curve without cracking -- sleight
of spine and cup -- now a javelin in flight
traveling with frugal grace: quickness
made slow by the instinct that missing
what's aimed for's what comes of haste, or eyes
too big for your stomach. Among the weeds' dead
shoots giant carp feed--a tea party of stiff-
tongued brutes sipping algaed shadows, exempt
by size from a predator whose slight kisses
yield up what's small enough to swallow instead
of choking alone on a single wish.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
My office has no windows, and only one door. The uninsulated ceiling is only inches from the hot tar roof above. I've ben here two hours, and I may have already bonded with my office chair at a molecular level. Send lemonade, Stat!
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
"That's right," says her boyfriend. "You'd better not let him make a habit of this."
The one outside then proceeds to make a few more intermittent mews, mews with just enough time elapsed between them to allow one to (theoretically) begin to drift off. The one in bed's boyfriend may have gone to sleep by this point, or may be off getting a glass of water, or maybe it's one o'clock in the afternoon, and only those who have trouble sleeping nights are abed. Anyway the mewing continues. And the one in bed's willpower crumbles, and the window is opened, and purr purr purr purr purr, the cat was never cuter.
And then the window is closed, the cat runs outside, and the game begins anew. Finis. (Except not really).
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
But now I've got to get back to all the other things I was supposed to do today. Like laundry, and lecture notes, and other things beginning with 'l' (lesbianism! lying! learning Latvian!).
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Actually, for all my offness, I think I'm actually sleeping more than usual. I'll probably go to bed pretty soon, this in spite of the fact that i was hardly awake at all today (I crawled to bed at eight this morning and slept 'til eleven, then went back to bed and slept from two til sixish. And this was after a tossy-and-turny but nonetheless moderately sleep-filled night). Mending bones, I'm learning, is exhausting work. And I'm so out of it, even when I am awake. But between the meds and the mending, it's no wonder my brain's hardly stirring. You don't want to know how long this has taken me to write (and how many times I accidently typed 'sleep' in lieu of some other word).
Oh, I was going to write more, but my brain's shutting down now. Off to bed.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
And yet! And yet not a day goes by that someone, some 45th percentile doesn't say, "hey, why haven't you updated your blog?" And I'll say, "I'm right here! Ask me how my day was! Tell me about your socks and I'll blog about it!" But do they comply? No. They go right back to being un-anecdotal, threading beads or knitting or whatever it is you do when you're keeping the newly surgiated company.
Brian just doddered in and asked if I was ready for bed. "Go away," says I. "I'm blogging!"
"About time," says he, taking of my shoes (I'm pretty good with most dexterous things, post surgery, but my shoes are very far away). "Come to bed soon, though. I'm turning off the lights and you might hurt yourself." I scoff. Our bedroom, dear 10th percentile, is very straightforward. No moats or casements or aligators or catamounts. I will not hurt myself. My collarbone has been resectioned, not my in-the-dark-navigation bits.
So anyway, that's that. Lump gone. Clavicle resectioned (is that even the right word? Sounds off). Blogger sleepy. Readers restless.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
So. How you been? I am busy. So busy, in fact, that I have become paralyzed by the sense of my own business, unable to finish any task, be it laundry or course proposals, because don't you know I'm busy!? I must lie here and eat goldfish crackers, so busy I am.
Course proposals for next semester are due on Monday. On Friday, I go in for a second round of surgery (remember that schwannoma way back when? Yeah, that). Thursday, my mom arrives from out of town (hi mom!). I'm hoping the house will be at least moderately clean by then (she's not a judgemental woman, my mother, but I don't want her to feel like she's raised some sort of squalid so-and-so). And Aristotle! I've got to read me some Aristotle before Friday, and get some percocet-proof lecture notes together for my first post-surgery class next week. But have I done any of this? Of course not, I'm far too busy. Oh, and plus? The prospect of surgery has me a bit scared. Not that there's any risk or scariness this time 'round. But my lizard brain doesn't know that. My lizard brain says needles are bad. And knives. And those drugs that steal your consciousness away. Oh, ack. I'll stop now.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
|Star Wars Horoscope for Taurus|
You are a dependable creature, but you do tend to be stubborn.
You like material possessions and love to win at games.
You hate being bossed around or losing.
You may succumb to your physical strength when upset.
Star wars character you are most like: Chewbacca
Seriously, though, how would you spell the wookie roar? Mweaaaaaah? Rwea-a-a-a? Mehraaah?
P.S. More information about wookie roars can be found on the internet
[EDITED TO ADD: G-g-g-g-geeaaah?]
Sunday, February 18, 2007
What Americans really think of Bush
Twice a year, pollsters for the Pew Research Center ask Americans to say the "one word that best describes" their "impression of George W. Bush." As late as February 2005, the top two volunteered responses were "honest" and "good." The new top two: "incompetent" and "arrogant."
"Honest" has fallen to No. 3. Rounding out the top 10: "good," "idiot," "integrity," "leader," "strong," "stupid" and "ignorant." "Ass" checks in at No. 13, "president" sits at No. 18, and "unconfident" brings up the rear at No. 32.
-- Tim Grieve
What's funny to me is that the pollsters don't prompt at all -- they just ask for one word (and accept two, but don't prompt for the second). And since the last election, the list of words that jump out of people's mouths at the sound of his name has just been getting longer and longer, with nineteen words between "honest" and "selfish" in February 2004 and thirty one between "incompetent" and "tough" in March 2006. The longer the man's in office the harder it gets to sum up just what the American people think of him.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Of course, not everyone was supportive. Our friend Jason called them old man socks. I just teased and brought it up (repeatedly) over dinner with friends.
So the weeks went by, and like many people finding themselves at life's crossroads, Brian stalled out for a while. H&M's socks had skulls on them. The socks at the fancy shoe store near our house were twenty bucks a pop. Then he needed a new hard drive, and then a new planer. And the Search for Sock fell by the wayside, for the most part. So far, he only has one pair (selected for him, as a gesture of support, by the aforementioned Jason). But argyle remains a funny little obsession with him, and it's become one of our little rituals: window shopping wherever we go, looking for argyle socks, and then judging said socks on various criteria to determine whether or not they are in fact the argyle that he is looking for (pink and brown argyle will not do. Neither will argyle impersonaters that lazily substitute mere diamond shapes for the more complex traditional pattern. I'm looking at you, Donna Karan).
Anyway. That's that.
Today Brian and I went to the grocery store twice -- once for dinner things and once for juice. On the way back with our dinner things (pasta sauce has been on sale lately, it's all we eat. Well, we put it on pasta), Brian and I started talking about cats, and how he'd read this article about this parasite common in domesticated cat poo that causes "mass personality changes" in affected populations, the most consistent being "guilt proneness (a form of neuroticism)." Apparently when this same parasite makes its way into rats, it causes the rats to become "active, less cautious and more likely to be eaten by a cat, where the parasite completes its life cycle." And Brian was telling me that this isn't the only parasite like this! There's another one that affects ants, and needs to complete its life cycle inside a sheep. So it actually causes ants to climb up stalks of grass so that they'll be chomped up! Just like that!
So, yeah. Apparently Brian's infected with some sort of argyle parasite. It's just not ready to complete the cycle yet. And pink and brown just won't do.
Poor Brian. This is what he gets for bugging me to update my blog more.
Monday, February 05, 2007
The first time we tried to do it (a mere dab of Frontline between the shoulder blades), he howled so loud and long that I worried our upstairs neighor would think we were strangling the little guy. And for months after, just the merest waft of fleagle treatment was enough to send the clawed beastie scurrying for the cat door. But these last few months, we've had it down to a science: one of us distracts the Monster with pets and treats while the other -- in the next room -- cracks open the dread treatment. Then while the boheamoth's attention is elsewhere, squirt! Another thriving flea metropolis is no more.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
So, what have I been up to? Hard to say. Teaching, but I don't want to discuss that too much on these here internets (my students are all web-literate, as are my bosses). Writing, but nothing too noteworthy (click here for some oldish news). Organizing my vaguely ordered stacks of paper into actual labeled and color-coded files. Updating my CV and dreaming of full-time work. The mundane day to day of growing up, in other words.