Archive for April, 2012

My apologies to anyone who stumbled here thinking there were going to be great photographs of African vistas, or lions, or swift gazelles leaping across the page.  No, what we have is a continued problem with WordPress and Firefox [The connection has been reset…] that does not seem to happen if I access the identical page in the Safari browser.

But since you’re here… Some Australian birds:

from Dover Publications image archive

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The “connection has been reset” problem is supposedly only in Firefox?  What?

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Almost exactly one year ago, I was in a meeting in which I listened to decent people try to work around a requirement that was supposed to have been helpful.  I grumble periodically about how students seem not to understand the system in which they are supposed to be striving and thriving, but it’s no more pleasant to watch at the next levels up — where grad students, post docs, and professors are each in their own ways swimming around increasingly large aquaria wondering why the food isn’t showing up where it used to, or wondering why the Universe has decreed that these are the only decorations allowed in the tank.Taken from a Dover images Friday Sampler

How can we swim, so that the currents are in our favor?  How can we align ourselves so our scales flash most brilliantly, or we hide most effectively from the budget-cutting sharks?  Eliot groused in Prufrock that perhaps it was better to be a “pair of ragged claws” scuttling across the ocean floor.

A year ago I thought: “I think I’m better off developing lungs and climbing the hell out.”

So I’ve been climbing….. (To confirm this for your own quest for lungs, air, and freedom, here are some additional examples)

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Once a year people in DC go mad over a grove of gnarly trees.

Thousands of people wander around, pushing strollers, paddling pedal boats in the Tidal Basin, buying commemorative merchandise, and taking giggly pictures of each other. The morning I traveled down to see the spectacle, the sky was what UK weather forecasters call “Grey Cloud”, tending towards “White Cloud”, so everything seemed filtered through a pastel haze.  Still, the visibility was pretty good:

Some of the visitors were more enthusiastic about the scenery than others — one long-suffering pair of elementary school teachers were herding their class to the long picnic tables for an early lunch before continuing to tour beneath the trees, and as sandwiches and drinks were opened, several of the children announced that what they really wanted to do was go back and ride the train [the local Underground, called the Metro] again!

Not far from where I had stopped to look across the basin, I noticed a young child trying to get his parents’ attention, pointing over and over across the water.  “What’s that?  What’s that?”  The parents didn’t seem to be paying attention, and it was all I could do not to yell over “That’s the memorial to the President the Texas Board of Education is trying to remove from history!

The Jefferson Memorial, featured on the back of the US 5 cent piece

Let us not get too distracted by the Texans and what they tolerate from their school boards…

I’m not, as you may have guessed by this point, all that interested in photographs of people; I came for this:

Where I grew up, there was a magnificent cherry tree, taller than our house [which had 2 stories and a full attic].  In the spring, it would “snow” petals for days — one of the most magical times of year. When the tree was taken down, I kept pieces, and one of the resulting carvings is always on my desk in remembrance.

I mentioned that the sky was clouded during most of my visit to the Cherry Tree Festival, but if you look down at the water, really carefully, you can see a hint here, flickering amid the floral flotsam, of the blue sky that owned the afternoon.

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Blame “The page has been reset” errors appearing from WordPress for the last few weeks when I tried to log on.  Here:  puzzle over this while I try to catch up with life….


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This is going to ramble. Given that just about everything else is blossoming, burgeoning, and — achoo! — producing pollen, this seems appropriate.

Encomnium on Double Pork Chops

O Muse, sing of gifts that keep on giving, and meals shared that result in many more meals afterwards…. Once upon a time, there was a splendid family dinner at a nearby restaurant.  We don’t get to see these cousins very often, so, yes, the meals were more than we’d ordinarily spend on a dinner.  But that double pork chop was not just delicious that one night for one person.  There were five servings from the chop and side dishes, and then Word made wonderful chili using the meaty bones we’d stored in the freezer.  The other entreé brought home lasted several meals as well, so I think it all turned out to be a remarkably frugal, as well as delicious set of choices.

Cue Jefferson Starship

Or don’t, but that’s what I heard one evening last week as I was looking up at the glow of young green leaves erupting on the Tulip tree near the church. The black of the branches, the grey of the clouded sky, and green spring green…. “Nothin’s gonna stop us now!

Yes, I am aware that these are maple leaves.... The tulip leaves are too high to get a good picture.

On Utility

While I might want to live in a William Morris space, where things were useful and beautiful, I have to confess that a lot of the useful things are not nearly as lovely as an outsider might like, and there are lovely things hidden away because they don’t have a purpose. For example, the Dansk sugar bowl, or heirloom china that forms a service I’m never likely to perform.  We don’t put sugar in beverages, usually, so unless we’re baking or mixing something up, the sugar can very well sit in its little paper bag or in the gasketed Saccharum jar.

There is a crystal sugar bowl that does get regular use.  It holds the Advil, and sits on the microwave, next to the pharmaceutical-quality glass mortar and pestle set, which typically holds a head of garlic.

My life requires tea and coffee, but tea/coffee cups are ornamental things — give me a mug, and please let it be safe for use in the aforementioned microwave [not a thing of beauty, and I don’t think some steampunk aesthetic surround system would solve that problem].

But that brings me to something that came up on a polymer discussion list [“Is x crap?”]  Well, does the world need more covered Bic stick pens?  Did we need to cover pens with polymer in the first place? Maybe a few. Probably they’re a great form of self-expression for the people making them, and some might be easier for people to hold than the stick pen by itself. For other people, the stick pen is a cheap form of advertising, and they’re mighty handy at the Post Office for filling out forms. But because I can get a free stick pen with relatively little effort, I don’t value them terribly much.  And because I don’t find writing with ball-points enjoyable, even an especially beautifully-decorated one isn’t going to attract my cash. That isn’t the fault of the person doing the decoration; it’s just a mis-match of object to audience.

What would inspire me hand over money? Hmmn.  Other than food, plants, and art supplies, not much recently…..

Oh, wait: SNAPThat I did ask Word to buy…..

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