Sunday, September 30, 2007


Choosing a word at random from a set of Angel Cards and this is what I picked on a Sunday: Education. Of course, the word is most associated with receiving an education, as in going to school. It can also refer to someone receiving "an education" in life experience. Dealing with love, romance, heartache, heartbreak, dreams, successes, failures, what works, what doesn’t work. All that stuff of living our lives each day.

Education: The act or process of educating or being educated. The knowledge or skill obtained or developed by a learning process

educación en Español
éducation en Francais

Education can mean learning, although with the current emphasis on standardized testing in public schools, it sometimes means learning to take the test, so to improve those ever-important test scores. Not a balanced approach, IMHO.

But for me, education has mostly been a positive concept. I’ve always loved learning, and continue to do so, which is why I take online courses in French and Spanish. Or write a blog, read tech stuff, take photos, check out the news, play music. Books are vital. Art is vital, as is music.

Education, learning is vital—necessary for my sanity. Is it for yours?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.
~Clay P. Bedford

Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.
~Mark Twain

Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Webs and power

Some words to mull over...

The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.
-William Shakespeare

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive
-Sir Walter Scott

The bird, a nest; the spider, a web; man, friendship.
-William Blake

He is most powerful who has power over himself.

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.
-Alice Walker

The secret of power is the knowledge that others are more cowardly than you are.
-Ludwig Borne

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Shadows and facts

Trolling the web for a few things to consider:

Why do leaves change color in the fall? Because as the days become shorter and cooler, there is not enough light or water for photosynthesis. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves, and they change to yellow and orange.

Butterflies can only fly if their body temperature is above 86 degrees. They sun themselves to warm up in cool weather until they are warm enough to fly.

Many say a cat purrs because they are contented and happy. But a cat also purrs when it is injured and in pain. It has been suggested by some scientists that purring, with its low frequency vibrations, is a "natural healing mechanism."

You can estimate the outdoor temperature by listening to how often a cricket chirps. To get a rough idea of the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, count the number of chirps in 15 seconds and then add 37. The number you get will be an approximation of the outside temperature.

The light from a lighthouse can be seen for long distances because it is a concentrated beam of light. Fresnel lenses are used to capture the light particles and funnel them into very high intensity light.

Some scientists think the word "fact" should be banished, and that "theory", "observation" and "experimental data" should be used instead when discussing scientific phenomena. That we, perhaps, become closer to the truth as certain theories are proved false.


There are no facts, only interpretations.
-Freidrich Nietzsche

If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.
-Albert Einstein

Beauty is a form of genius -- is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.
-Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gloves and other stuff

The change of seasons. Trees paint, then lose their leaves; flowers dry and turn brown. Days become shorter as shadows of winter approach. Cool in the mornings, warm in the afternoons. Possibility of frost at night.

Summer is over, and it’s that shift from freefall days to sitting in class and homework; from casual office days to the conferences, meetings, projects of Fall.

People pack up their things and move. Or lug boxes into their new digs and unpack. Some clean out attics. Some clean garages. And some their cupboards.

Seems to be a time of putting on the gloves and getting down to whatever the season brings.


The cat with gloves catches no mice.
-Navjot Singh Sidhu

When archaeologists discover the missing arms of Venus de Milo, they will find she was wearing boxing gloves.
-John Barrymore

Gloves = las guantes

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Imagination and the moon

After being away a couple of days, I’m back at the BBC Spanish course. This set is about food and meeting people. You first learn how to order food and drink, then how to use the friendly line: Quieres tomar algo? Which, since this is the BBC, means: "Fancy a drink?"

According to the cultural guide, you can dance the night away at the many discotechs (in the larger cities), then have un chocolate con churros or perhaps un café solo at dawn to start the new day.

As I looked through my photos, I see I have none of food, nor of disco dancing. So, imagination, daydreams, and a crescent moon (la luna) will have to do…


He was my cream, and I was his coffee - and when you poured us together, it was something.
~Josephine Baker

Dancing with the feet is one thing, but dancing with the heart is another.
~Author Unknown

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Starting another journey...


Began taking basic Spanish online through the BBC language website. Tonight, I learned how to give directions to a cab driver, get my hotel room (habitación), order food and drink (un bocadillo el queso, y una Cervaza, por favor), and ask for directions to local sites (Dónde está la parque Camel’s Back?) Sounds like a breath-taking trip already…

The BBC language site is very well done; interactive, fun, features several languages, also provides extra tips and historical and cultural info. It’s well worth the "journey".


Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Change your language and you change your thoughts.
-Karl Albrecht

Language is wine upon the lips.
-Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Eye on the sky

A change of weather, rain, cool enough for jackets, leaves beginning to turn, golden slips fluttering from branches.

Halloween costumes, candy already out in the stores; we’ll probably see a Thanksgiving turkey before the end of September.

But for now, we’ll keep an eye on the sky…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We'd never know how high we are,
til we are called to rise;
and then, if we are true to plan,
our statures touch the sky

-Emily Dickinson

A sky as pure as water bathed the stars and brought them out.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Monday, September 17, 2007


A sample of "sidewalk art" we came across during one of our walks.

I remember playing serious hopscotch during recess on our school’s main sidewalk. It was wide and smooth; great for a big hopscotch board. Only girls. The boys didn’t want to play. They were more into leaping from the top of the slide or bashing each other while playing dodge ball.

But hopscotch was first created by men for men. Did you know hopscotch began as a military training exercise for Roman soldiers? It was supposed to help improve their agility so they could go out and conquer more land for the Caesars. Apparently, children imitated what they saw the soldiers doing and created a new game for themselves.

Hopscotch is played all over the world. According to a website by Dagonell the Juggler:
"The game is called "Marelles" in France, "Templehupfen" in Germany, "Hinkelbaan" in the Netherlands, "Ekaria Dukaria" in India, "Pico" in Vietnam and "Rayuela" in Argentina."

And the word, "hopscotch" is a combination of English and French.

Check out this site for more information and diagrams of hopscotch boards:


Life is the only game in which the object of the game is to learn the rules.
-Ashleigh Brilliant

You give 100 percent in the first half of the game, and if that isn't enough in the second half you give what's left.
-Yogi Berra

The score never interested me, only the game.
-Mae West

Don't it go to show ya never know...

A rich weekend with the local Hyde Park Fair and seeing Little Shop of Horrors (the musical) at the outdoor theatre. As we watched Audrey 2 grow larger and more demanding, a storm blew in. Dust, leaves, grit, but no rain. The storm in rhythm with Seymour and crew singing about getting richer, the sadistic dentist sucking gas, and Audrey 2 shouting, "Feed me!"

A weekend of smoke and fire and music; coffee, chocolate, wine. Flames and glass; stories and encounter. A little hope here, a little luck there, working for something good, something nourishing.
(And not plant food…:-)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

One day you're slinging hash
Feeling so rejected
Lightning flash, you get resurrected
Make a splash-now you rate the big
And with a thunderclash-
Crash kerplunk, bam kerboom,
Zang kazunk, zam kazoom
Zowee powee holy cow he
Ordered up a rainbow to go
Wow! Pow! Look out below!
Don't it go to show ya never know?
-Howard Ashman

Thursday, September 13, 2007


C pointed out the shadow play of the "Victorian gable trim" on this house. I learned the "proper" name and more info on the Cumberland Woodcraft Company website. They have a feature called a "Porch Builder," where you can design your own Victorian-style porch through their site. They also have other informational tools, like "How to measure roof pitch." Everything you need for decorating your home, inside and out, the old-fashioned way.

I like this gable trim; it reminds me of musical notes or small chimes that might ring when the wind blows. Maybe if we listen hard enough on a breezy night…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We have heard the chimes at midnight.
-William Shakespeare

Words want to find chimes with each other, things want to connect.
-Paul Muldoon

The command line entry looks like this. > sounder.exe chimes.wav ...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The worth of a picayune

Yes, real estate sales have been down this summer. IMHO, prices became way over-inflated during the housing boom. Even though they’ve come down a little, they are still too high in some areas of town. A small bungalow in Boise is not worth $300,000+. This is not the Bay Area or Seattle.

But what do I know? We rent…

Every so often I read the New Orleans Times Picayune website to see what’s going on in the Crescent City. It occurred to me that I was hazy on what "picayune" actually means:
Picayune: Of little value or importance, trivial. Petty or mean. It also was the name of an old Spanish coin that was worth about the same as a U.S. nickel.

A Spanish-American version of the coin was used in the U.S. South during the 1800s, but they stopped minting it in 1873. Thus, the saying, "not worth a picayune," which is similar to "not worth a plug nickel."

Of course, the opposite of picayune would be words like: value, importance, worth, significance, appreciate, cherish.

Let’s take Value. It’s slippery because the value of something, like a house, is subjective to whoever is doing the appraisal—and what conditions they are operating under, such as the "marketplace." And each person values certain things differently than others; hence "one man’s trash is another’s treasure."

This brings up questions, such as: Why is gold more valuable than silver? "Designer" clothing more valuable than non-designer clothing? Why are thrift stores so popular? And "dollar stores"? Why was it that Van Gogh lived in poverty because no one would buy his paintings, but now they sell for millions of dollars?

And what would a picayune from 1803 be worth today?

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs.
-Gloria Steinem

Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.
-Ayn Rand

Nothing makes it easier to resist temptation than a proper bringing-up, a sound set of values -- and witnesses.
-Franklin P. Jones

Monday, September 10, 2007

A card for you...

These gift cards were placed on objects along the street. They were stuck to trees, fences, and cars parked in driveways, like strategically placed bread crumbs leading to a destination of questions.

One never knows what will be found during a walk through the neighborhood.


Wisdom at times is found in folly.
– Horace

Every exit is an entry somewhere else.
--Tom Stoppard

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Yard art

The Wired Ones nestle in the bushes. Perhaps at night, they take turns rolling the dice to see who gets to roll out on the town.

Whoever lives here has created several of these beings in various sizes. The ones sitting at the curb look like large dry shrubs, at a glance. But upon closer inspection, you find they are made of twisted wire hangers (like the ones from the dry cleaners).

Many people like to do "yard art." Although some is more conspicuous than others, and can cause problems with the neighbors. For example, a man in the Midwest created a "tropical golf vacation" in his yard, complete with putting greens, gazebo, a running stream, and palm trees. Another man from a different town displays his seven vintage Rolls-Royces around his front yard, and has his back yard filled with statues of partially-clad women. Then, there’s the woman who built a giant nest in her back yard, complete with eggs, to work through her "empty nest syndrome" when her son left for college.

In these cases, city officials were called and compromises had to be made, usually in favor of the neighbors who complained.

The Wired Ones have been there for a while; this neighborhood is usually more tolerant of yard art than those that have neighborhood covenants. And we have the 6th Street Dude, who has had giant puppets, a dragon, and a flying tie machine in his front yard.

Yard art is a good thing; it brings soul, humor, and a little spice. Lord knows we have enough "beige" neighborhoods throughout America, where all the houses and yards look the same.


If Jack Kerouac had set out to find a real bookstore in the suburbs, he would still be on the road, Phileas Fogg would still be in the air, the Ancient Mariner wouldn't have had time to tell anyone his story.
-Michael Winerip

The artist's task is to become a successful eccentric, a strange but wise duck able to venture out of solitary confinement and mingle among society.
-Eric Maisel

Be daring, be different, be impractical; be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.
-Cecil Beaton

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Gone to the birds

Some bird names sound like songs:

Finches, blackbirds, crows, tanagers, Stellar Jays, Magpies, hummingbirds, larks, swallows, chickadees, sparrows, wrens, thrushes, waxwings, grosbeaks, starlings, nuthatches, pipits, kinglets, gnatcatchers, pelicans, herons, loons, swans, geese, pheasants, falcon.

The peregrine falcon is on the back of the new Idaho quarter. The design features a large falcon looming over a tiny Idaho, along with the State motto, Esto Perpetua (Let it be perpetual).

This could be interpreted in more than one way…

You must not know too much or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and watercraft; a certain free-margin, and even vagueness - ignorance, credulity - helps your enjoyment of these things.
-Henry David Thoreau

The recipe for perpetual ignorance is a very simple and effective one: be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.
-Elbert Hubbard

A wise falcon hides his talons.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wise cats and fools

Seems that Senator Larry just can’t make up his mind whether or not to resign; even though he already said he was going to resign so he can fight to overturn the guilty plea he already made. Today, one of his PR guys said that it was "very, very likely" that Craig would resign, but that he wanted to "leave the door a little bit ajar." (Where’s a decent picture of a weasel when you need one?)

However, tonight, Rep. Mike Simpson finally publicly called on Craig to "make it clear he will leave his seat by Sept. 30th." Yay for Mike!

The cat in this photo looks like a judge, don’t you think? He probably doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Perhaps he could assist the Senate Ethics Committee or the Minnesota legal system…


Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.

The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right.
-Mark Twain

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The gift of a storm

A storm, we had a storm with rain today, badly needed rain. And more than just a few dusty drops. C and I stood out on our tiny stoop for a bit, just to listen to the rain and breathe in its wonderful aroma.

As a little kid, I was terrified by the powerful thunderstorms during summer nights in the Midwest. When a storm came, I’d bury myself in my bed, hiding under the pillow and blankets until it passed.

But later, I began watching the storms. If it were during the day, my brother and I would run out into the front yard and watch the storm roll in, the wind beating our faces, blowing our hair straight back. We’d stay out there until the rain began, then run back into the house, laughing, totally soaked. If it were night, I’d gaze out my bedroom window, counting the seconds between lightning flash and thunder rolls, fascinated how eerie and magical everything looked in the brief burst of a lightning flash. And I began to understand it as weather, instead of the end of the world.

I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship.
-Louisa May Alcott

Good luck has its storms.
-George Lucas

You don't need to pray to God any more when there are storms in the sky, but you do have to be insured.
-Bertolt Brecht

Monday, September 03, 2007

Mushrooms and more

Mushrooms like these have suddenly popped up in various places throughout the neighborhood. Not being a mushroom expert, I don’t know what kind these are, but they probably aren’t edible.

Unlike the delicious portabella slices we had on baguettes tonight, expertly prepared by C, my favorite chef...

I recall "magic mushrooms" from years ago, when the group I used to run with occasionally went on ‘shroom hunts in the morning, then prepared spaghetti with "mushroom sauce" for dinner. This provided entertainment well into the early morning hours.

But none of us ever overdid it. Not like the kid I saw a few years later when I worked in ER. He was 13. He’d ingested enough ‘shrooms that he was no longer in our reality. He kept leaping about, trying to catch something only he could see, all while calling out numbers. "Seven, seven, thirteen, eleven, nine, three." He eventually returned to this reality as the night wore on, and was sent home with his chagrined parents. Perhaps he later became an accountant, an engineer, or a professional sports broadcaster…


Mushrooms are commercially produced in nearly every state. Pennsylvania, however, still accounts for over 55% of total U.S. production. (National Agricultural Statistics Service)

One portabella mushroom has more potassium than a banana. White and crimini mushrooms are also good sources of potassium. Potassium helps the human body maintain normal heart rhythm, fluid balance, and muscle and nerve function. (USDA)

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Critique

He hands the story back to her. It had been a short story, now made longer by the remarks scribbled throughout the margins.

She reads through it in silence, sets it on the table when her hands begin to shake too much.

Opening is weak; where’s the hook? Whose story is it? Who is the main character? Why should I care about her? Cliché, cliché, cliché. Show me; don’t tell me about it. Be more specific; you’re too vague here. Metaphor doesn’t work. Use of symbolism here seems clunky. Writing style is too stilted throughout; let your own voice come through. Events don’t seem plausible. The ending is too predictable; I knew what was going to happen.

When she finally looks up, he is watching her. "You’ve got a good start," he says, "with a little more work—"

"There is no start. There is nothing. You’ve left me with nothing."

He gazes at her. "Oscar Wilde said, ‘Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.’ Sometimes nothing is the start."