Monday, 27 October 2008

I have often walked

On Saturday I had a very strange experience; a sudden bout of nostalgia caught me as I came back from the supermarket for some last-minute supplies (most supermarkets over here are closed on Sundays, it wasn't too long ago they weren't allowed to be open on that day, or after six PM on weekdays).

I didn't think I was emotionally attached to this neighbourhood, I still don't, it must have been the result of an innate fear for the unknown rather than affection for this place. The neighbourhood was just somewhere for the house, my home, to stand. I smiled at familiar faces, even made small-talk, but I never felt like part of it.

Of course the odds are that's just because of how I tick and how I perceive the world. I'm certainly not fleeing the place I know to some completely unknown town (to me, obviously) with any romantic motion of finding everything better there. It won't be and it'll even take time to get back to the level of smiles and ones on the streets that I'm used to now.

As I was preparing to leave with my groceries, grabbing some change for the homeless newspaper seller, my eyes started to fog over.

I tipped the guy with the homeless newspaper roughly 10 dollars and walked home in a haze.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

palin-drome

Today, let's explore the lighter, slightly *cough* geekier side to Subtle Knife.

Anu Garg over at A.Word.A.Day compiled this week's words with the (vice-)presidential candidates from the two major parties in the US elections in mind. Besides barrack, obambulate, meeken and bidentate, he offered us palinode.

(A palinode, if you didn't already know, is "A poem in which the author retracts something said in an earlier poem" and its Greek components are palin (again) and oide (song).)

The word palin is also found in palindrome (which I'm not even going to explain, I expect more of my readers than that), an apt example of which can be found in the A.Word.A.Day newsletter (issue 330):

Wasilla's all I saw.

good point

Has anyone on the McCain/Palin Campaign wished Obama's Grandma Prayers or Best Wishes?

I thought that sort of thing was standard practice...

Saturday, 25 October 2008

the development of language

Savage chickens

Too @!#* true!

(found at Language Log)

births of Hermes, Apollo, Artemis and Dionysus

Zeus lay with numerous nymphs and after the creation of man, with mortal women too. He fathered four great Olympian deities:

Hermes on Maia, daughter of Atlas.

Apollo and Artemis on Leto, daughter of Coeus and Phoebe, after Hera decreed that she would not be delivered in any place where the sun shone and sent the serpent Python to pursue her.

Dionysys, whose mother is variously named as Demeter, Io, Dione and Persephone, but the common story is that Zeus, disguised as a mortal, had a love-affair with Semele, daughter of King Cadmus. When she was six months pregnant, Hera spurred her on to demand from her lover to show himself in his true form, so she would know who he was. When Zeus refused, she denied him acces to her bed. In a rage he appeared as thunder and lightning and she was consumed. But Hermes saved the child, sewing it up into Zeus' thigh where it matured for the next three months.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

That's it for now, my book of myths has been packed and ready to be moved to my new apartment. To be continued.

Friday, 24 October 2008

self-explanatory

Amidst all the uproar over his courageous stand against his bishop and his following suspencion Father Geoff Farrow made me laugh earlier this week. Here's his suggestion for straight men who want to know why marriage equality is important when domestic partnership is available:

try this: Inform your girlfriend that you've decided you'd like to enter into a Domestic Partnership with her, instead of marriage. I am certain that she will be able to explain the HUGE difference between the two realities in a far more forceful and colorful way than, I would ever be able to accomplish.

He also advises the gentlemen to wear a protective cup.

the last word

I always have to have the last word. Even if it is a smiley.
-- Subtle Knife

Of course this wasn't something I realised for the first time yesterday, but my messenger conversation with a colleague in another department did make me look up and make a formal declaration.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

theory and practice of walking in high-heeled shoes

Today I wore my 2" heeled shoes to work. It was a spur of the moment decision, as I was almost running out of the door, because the jeans I was wearing are rather long, cut to be worn with heels rather than flat shoes.

The problem with these shoes is that I bought this summer and have hardly worn them since. Once in a while I think "I really should get used to them", walk in them for an hour or so, kick them off and sit down. I have trouble with my feet every time I buy new shoes.

Still it may have been a bit optimistic to wear them all day. A nice colleague lent me a stick that you rub on those areas that get the most friction and that really helped for a while. I remember using spray-on bandage in a similar way in the past.

All this has not got much to do with this guide to walking in high heels which I consulted. I was especially interested in the art of walking down stairs.
When wearing high heels on a staircase, always use the rail if it is available, or at least be close enough to a rail that you can reach it if you need to. When climbing steps, your entire shoe heel and sole should land firmly at once on each step.

Trying to put my feet down 'flat' when going downstairs, even with heels on, makes it feel like I'm falling backwards.

like the corners of my mind

The National Memory Test was on TV tonight, but I forgot.

Monday, 20 October 2008

more kd

kd lang @ KCRW
source: KCRW

kd lang - watershedWith thanks to Lisa, who mentioned that kd lang recently performed to raise funds for KCRW.

Go here to watch or listen. I'm only a couple of songs in, but I'm loving it! EDIT: There's also a really funny interview in part 1.

There are more artists listed in their media player. After I've finished part 1 and part 2, I'll be checking out the Carole King video (from last year, how did I miss that?)

You simply can't go wrong with these ladies.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

moral

Don't open an old but previously unused bottle of super glue over your laptop computer, not even after you cover part of it with an old envelope.

Right dad?

Zeus and Hera

Zeus controlled his quarrelsome family on Mount Olympus only with the threat of his thunderbolt. When his mother Rhea, foreseeing what trouble his lust would cause, forbade him to marry, he violated her. He fathered the Seasons and the three Fates on Themis; the Charites on Eurynome; the Muses on Mnemosyne; and some say Persephone, the Queen of the Underwolrd, on the nymph Styx.

Vexed by his infidelities, Hera often humiliated Zeus. At one point his pride and petulance became so intolerable that Hera, Poseidon, Apollo and the other Olympians except Hestia tied him up with rawhide thongs while he was asleep. The Nereid Thetis, foreseeing civil war over his succession, fetched the hundred-handed Briareus, who swiftly untied all the thongs.

As the leader of the conspiracy, Zeus hung Hera up from the sky by golden bracelets anround her wrists and an anvil fastened to either ankle. Only when the other deities swore never more to rebel did he release her.Poseidon and Apollo were sent as bond-servants to King Laomedon, for whom they built the city of Troy.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

live from Tivoli, tonight!

I'm at Tivoli in Utrecht waiting for artha Wainwright to start. The opening band are too bland. There's a smoker's lounge at the back and K's chatting. I'll let you know when there's more to say.

K and I both think we saw a bartender from Prik. Martha just started.

She's rocking! The crowd are noisy. "I gotta just interject... You can talk when the band's on, but for the solo's... I can't understand why you're talking." Then a large part of the audience told the others to SHUSH!

Encores Dis, Quand Reviendras-Tu and - with Brad on drums, Matt on Martha's guitar, the guitarist on bass and Sylvan on keyboard (Lily still doing backing vocals) - See Emily Play.

It was great to see all the old faces again. Now I'm waiting for her to sign my new copy of an EP I already own.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

just the one, please

Shock news!
The Dutch may be known as big drinkers [it doesn't say where this is known, SK], in reality things are not as bad as they seem. In fact: practically no-one in Europe drinks as little pure alcohol per capita as in The Netherlands. Only Greeks, Italians and Swedes use less alcohol.

Luxemburgers top the list. In 2003 they drank the equivalent of 12,6 liters of pure alcohol per head [3,3 gallons]. The Dutch managed just 7,9 [2 gallons], according to the Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (CBS).

Source: ANP

(I think K. may be skewering the results.)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Joe Six Pack strikes back

Dear Ms. Palin,

Yup, that's me, Joe Six Pack. I heard you mention my name a few times lately. You seem to think that just because you call me by name and give me that cute little wink that I'll rush right out and vote Republican on November 4. I guess you don't know ol' Joe as well as you think you do--not by a long shot.

First off, although I do enjoy my brewskis, I find it a little condescending of you to keep bringing it up all the time. That's just not very polite. People are going to think that I have a drinking problem. Plus, there's so much more to me than this six pack under my arm. I'm a family man, Ms. Palin. I've got a whole bunch of people at home who are depending on me to bring home the bacon. Mouths to feed and all that. I work hard for my money. I doubt you ever worked that hard in your whole life, but I won't make any assumptions. I know as little about you as you do about me.

Here's one thing you apparently don't know: it's getting a whole lot harder to keep putting food on my table. Hell, last month, I couldn't even afford that six pack, that's how tough it is. My beer money has turned into gas money, and rent money, and food money. My 401k has taken a serious hit in the last couple of weeks. We're in the middle of huge economic crisis. I thought I'd better let you know that, too, since I hardly ever hear you mention it. I've barely been able to put anything away toward my retirement, what with the high cost of daily living. My nest egg is dwindling away before my eyes and all I hear you yapping about is how Barack Obama "pals around with terrorists". I guess I'll be working until the day I die. I hope to God I'll have a few six packs to comfort me in my old age. It doesn't look like I'll have much else.

I'd sure like be able to put my kids through college. They're awfully smart, and I'm sure they'll amount to much more than their Joe Six Pack poppa, but the tuition at most colleges is way out of reach for a guy like me. There isn't much financial assistance for middle class folks, and even the community colleges are getting out of our price range. Since they won't be getting much higher education, I sure hope there'll be jobs and affordable housing for my kids and my grandkids. Do you have any ideas about that? I'd sure like to hear them.

I won't even get into health care expenses. I've been needing to go to the doctor for a few things that have been bothering me, but I just can't afford the high deductable on my lousy medical insurance. My better half and my kids always come first with Joe Six Pack. That's just the kind of guy I am. It's too bad I have to make those kinds of choices regarding my health, but what else can I do? I hear you and Mr. McCain want to tax my health benefits, too. I can barely make ends meet now, so I don't know how that will help me any.

I heard you saying some pretty nasty things about Barack Obama on the TV. Folks at your rallies were shouting "off with his head" and "traitor" and other things that just aren't appropriate to say in public about a man running for President. Your running-mate, Mr. McCain, he tried to shut them up and he got booed by the crowd. Booed. That's just wrong. I may be Joe Six Pack, but my momma taught me that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Sure, not many men can best me in a bar fight, but that's where I leave my potty mouth--in the bar. You should teach your supporters to do the same thing because I won't have any of that.

Do you know what me and my friends talk about when were sitting out on the back porch with our six packs? Lately, we've been talking about the economy. Some of us are afraid we won't be able to keep our houses. Some of us are worried about losing our jobs. We're pissed off that fuel prices are so high that we can't drive our cars or heat our homes. I never thought we'd be scared that the money we've saved might just disappear overnight. We sure would appreciate it if you and Mr. McCain would stop the name calling and let us know your plan for fixing this mess.

P.S. It's the economy, stupid. Even an ignorant, beer drinking bumpkin like me knows that one.

This was posted in the comments over at Joe.My.God. To give credit where credit was due, I followed the trail back to the source, Aberrant Clone.

hello, pumpkin!



Perhaps this year I should try out this strange American tradition I heard of... I believe this site has some nice examples. It even has instructions for pumpkin virgins like myself.

Now where to get ones hands on one of those big orange things over here? There's lots of tacky Halloween stuff around, but I can't remember seeing actual pumpkins. O wait, I'm going to be in Germany that day. At least I'll be with a lot of Americans. But I don't think there's room for a pumpkin in Ellen.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

a most peculiar feeling

Well it's a most peculiar feeling, like sunburn in the evening
With dark clouds on their way
And you think it's most unlikely life could ever shine as brightly
Once the sun has gone and the pressure's on
And the rain is here again

Don't Need The Sunshine - Catatonia (listen here)

Or as Placebo said: "Baby, did you forget to take your meds?" Answer: I'm not sure... One night turns pretty much into another when you have to take them every day and even when I am positive, a little while later it may dawn upon me that actually what I'm thinking of happened last Thursday.

Honestly I don't forget them that often and I'm really not positive that I forgot them last night. Sunday night, now, that's a different story... Between not taking my happy pills and not being to sleep very well excacerbated by inconsiderate parents (after all those years of "Keep quiet, your father's asleep!") I was extremely irritable all day Monday. Of course I didn't warn my parents to be quiet Monday night - even after missing just one day that's just out of the question, although for some reason I'm still always able to function at work. Perhaps because that's not personal - and had another difficult time going to sleep. But because I had taken my medication that night, on Tuesday I told my mother that they had been keeping me up with their talking right outside my door and it stopped.

So this morning I woke up with a weird, numb, feeling, like I was not just looking at the world through a veil, but all my senses were slightly dulled. Weird, but not unfamiliar. I took a shower and after I turned off the tap, I realised that all I'd done was stand there, swaying, in the stream of hot water. I had to turn it back on to wash. Plus I'm very horny. That also happens when I miss a happy pill, which is very reassuring, really, because it means they haven't permanently affected my libido - not that I'm complaining about it even when I'm on the pills.

Let me make this clear: nobody worry about me, I'm keeping a close eye on me, it's a Sunday, so I don't have to do anything, I'll just take it easy and get ready for work in the morning.

Just a few songs that seem to go through my head on days like this:

Beautiful Ones - Suede
Brazen (Weep) - Skunk Anansie
Don't Need the Sunshine - Catatonia
Everybody Hurts - R.E.M.
Foolish Love - Rufus Wainwright
Hallelujah - k.d. lang
In My Arms - Rufus Wainwright
Numb - Pet Shop Boys
Meds - Placebo
Zombie - The Cranberries

And now I'm off to watch Merlin.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

pinko!

socialist

Ooh yeah, this is such a surprise. OK Cupid has me pegged as a socialist. Now I'll never get to visit my friends in the US again...

I would like to add that they seem to have a rather broad definition of socialism. What I would call myself is a social democrat or a democratic socialist. I want to bring about social and economic justice through democratic means. That's not too much to ask, surely?

international appeal

flagsI had no idea how international the appeal of my blog is. Just look at the last ten visitors to my blog: Italy, The Netherlands (that one's me, actually), The Netherlands again, Qatar, Japan, India, Canada, Yemen (the flag looks a lot like The Netherlands when they're this small) and the USA (twice, the second one didn't fit in the screencap, one was from Illinois, the other Nebraska).

So what do I do now to fill up all of this space? That's the appeal of blogging to me, really, the fact that this screen looks full pretty fast, and even if I do only post a one-liner, because of the other messages on the page it doesn't look so bad.

On the other hand the preview function isn't much help to me. Quite the opposite really. It's not a good reflection of the template lay-out (I assume it's just the bog-standard basic Blogger lay-out that's used for the previews). I really only use it to see if I haven't got any funny code in there. Not that there's any exciting code in these posts, all I do is check if links and pictures are working, if italics have been properly closed etc. That's about the extent of my knowledge of html, but I'm good at copying things, so if I see something interesting, I could use it.

The only problem is that this page soon gets too busy for my tastes. Remember when I had all that stuff in the right-hand column, headlines, my eBay purchases, this day in history? I gave it a try but I just couldn't stand it.

Thinking of flags made me do a little online search and found there are several sets you can download for free. I have no idea if they'll ever be any use to me, but I nabbed these just in case.

Hera and her children

Hera, daughter of Cronus and Rhea, had the Seasons as her nurses. After defeating Cronus, Hera's twin brother Zeus sought her out and courted her. She wasn't interested but he tricked her by taking on the form of a bedraggled cuckoo. When she warmed it in her bosom, Zeus took on his own form again and ravished her, shaming Hera into marriage.

As a wedding gift, Mother Earth gave her a tree with golden apples and the wedding night lasted three hundred years. Together they had Ares, Hephaestus and Hebe, though some say Ares and his twin sister Eris were conceived when Hera touched a flower, Hebe when she touched a lettuce and that Hephaestus was also her parthenogenous child. Others say that Hephaestus was her son by Talos, nephew of Daedalus. Hera regularly bathes in a sprong to renew her virginity.

Hebe was made cup-bearer to the gods and eventually married Heracles, after Ganymedes had usurped her office.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

people say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading

Logan Pearsall Smith (1865 - 1946), Afterthoughts (1931) "Myself"


It's funny how you desperately want to read some books and others you just want to have read. In the space of seven days I read Neuromancer and The Life of Pi and enjoyed both of them immensely. Then I started The Sorrow of Belgium and after three days I'm still only a dozen or so pages in... I know that you can find summaries etc. quite easily, especially since the advent of the internet, but meant it exactly the way I said it before: I want to have read it. It's just the process of getting there that's the problem on this one.

In a way it's a good thing, because most of my books are now packed away in moving boxes, so I can't really afford to start ripping through this one until after the move, which is still just over a month away. Unless of course I start buying more new ones, which I almost did yesterday. I was looking at Paul Verhoeven's book on Jesus...

Thursday, 9 October 2008

funerals

Today one of my favourite agony uncles, Father Tony, tackles another tricky question on his Bilerico column. (I have always pronounced and still feel the urge to pronounce this as bileRIco instead of bilERico...) I'm posting this here, because it doesn't quite fit as a reply at the original post.

Cecilia asks how to handle a Baptist preacher and her father's siblings on organising her father's funeral. This reminds me somewhat of my grandmother's funeral.

Afterwards, her surviving brothers and sisters wrote an angry letter to the priest for saying a Latin mass instead of using the Dutch, as she had put in writing beforehand.

However, I'm pretty sure her (grand)children didn't care and I'm 100% convinced she wouldn't have. Not only did she adore him, but the man had been in hospital for an operation in between administering her the last rites and the funeral. Unlike the Baptist preacher in question, he knew my grandmother well and despite there being a replacement available - he looked like the lectern was the only thing holding him up - insisted on doing this. So he got the language wrong, who cares?

I've mentioned this before, but my grandmother asked an uncle who held power of attorney to take her mother's gold watch from her home and keep it safe to be given to me after her death. But the aunt everyone feared would object to this never even commented on it.

I'll be turning 36 soon, perhaps I should start putting a few things down in writing (I'll just have a leaf through Singing the Living Tradition and a dozen hymns and readings will come to me...

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

stuck and abandoned

9PM. I'm upstairs with one of my parents' dogs, who is suffering from separation anxiety.

He can't be downstairs, though, because the other dog is getting a visit from a bitch. Apparently she's not into threesomes...

And he would probably gnaw off his paw despite it not being stuck if he were let alone, so I'm stuck.

In a small room with a panting, slobbering, whining dog.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

the birth of Aphrodite

Aphrodite, Goddess of Desire, rose naked from the foam of the sea and rode a scallop shell ashore. Grass and flowers sprang from the soil wherever she trod. The Seasons, daughters of Themis, hastened to clothe and adorn her.

Some hold she sprang from the foam which gathered atbout the genitals of Uranus after Cronus threw them into the sea, others that Zeus begt her on Dione.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

The Fates

The three conjoined Fates were begotten by Erebus on Night, their names are Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. Zeus weighs the lives of men and informs the Fates so that the thread of life, spun on Clotho's spindle and measured by the rod of Lachesis, can be snipped by Atropos' shears. Some hold that even Zeus is subject to the Fates, because they are not his children, but parthenogenous daughters of the Great Goddess Necessity, who is called The Strong Fate.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

my purse and my preciousss

Today I went out to buy my brother and his wife a birthday present for my parents (I got a call from Mom last night to ask if I could please pick up a DVD box set - I won't say which one - as it was on sale and I work next to a mall...) and was seduced by a purse. I still got the DVDs, though.

Now, she isn't one of those hoity-toity designer purses, <whisper>she's not even real leather</whisper>, but I saw her in the window and I knew I had to have her. I tried to deny it, looking at the other purses there, including an identical version in a different colour (turquoise), but I just had to have this one. It's the colour of freshly picked lavender, a rich blue with purple tinges. I know that's what it is because I googled colours until I found the right illustration:

lavender

Preciousss seems to be on strike. Actually she seems to be working fine, it's just the lack of connection that's a bit of a downer. I'll have to call the phone company tomorrow (from work, since I don't have a landline) to find out what's wrong.

EDIT (Monday): Precious is working again, it turned out to be something stupid like turning off automatic roaming and choosing the new provider (the one that bought my old provider) manually.

false modesty, false pride

When Joe.My.God. asked his Open Thread Thursday question this morning - "Do you have a "type"? If so, has it changed since you've gotten older?" - I replied, flippantly: "male humans ;-)"

Partly, because for fun and sex I don't really have a type, but partly the reason was that I get uncomfortable saying that for a relationship I want a man who is (almost) as intelligent as myself. Unfortunately that rules out about 99% of the population. He needs to have very broad interests, not pretend to listen to my latest favourite bit of trivia thinking he could be watching Survivor, but ready to counter with a (however tangentially) related story. He should have a reasonable understanding of the political climate of at least a handful of countries and a general idea about several others, international relations, history, economics and a few more subjects.

I'm not asking for much.


By the way, I'm still stupid in many ways, a high IQ does not prevent you from doing the dumbest things.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

transcending mystery and wonder

flaming chaliceI was supposed to organise next week's UU service, but another member apparently thought so too. He has prepared a service around a sermon titled "The experience of transcending mystery and wonder in daily life" and I'm very much looking forward to it.

I also appreciate the mystery that has allowed me some more time to write the sermon that K. will be giving and choose the texts and hymns. It shouldn't be too hard, since we UU's seem to be pretty good at signalling problems and adressing them. The UUA, with whom we are affiliated, has a book that spans 400 pages describing its Social Justice Statements from 1961 to the present. You can find a search engine and link to the .pdf file on this page.

Our Fellowship is very small and it would be insane to even think about matching the UUA's efforts, but we can definitely do more (and make it more structured) than we are now. So I will be proposing that we as the members choose a couple of fields of special interest, from each of which we could then pick one project to support, through a financial donation or in kind.

I'm already a UUSC first responder, by the way. It's focus areas - besides humanitarian crises - are civil liberties, economic justice and enviromental justice.


PS. On a completely different note: should I get a flaming chalice tattoo? In my mind the circles and the chalice are silver, with the flame bursting through the confines of its surroundings and a glow (plus more flames, lifelike, not stylised) all around it.

EDIT: Did anyone else get Paul Simon's Boy In A Bubble stuck in their head after this post?
These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call