Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ship It

Last night, our daughter told us that she needed to have something shipped to her quickly. She's about five hours away. Immediately, the thought came to me. Overnight Express.

For the US Post Office, overnight apparently means yeah, it'll be in transit over at least one night.  Or in this case, two.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


It turns out that pouring a non-resealable five pound bag of coffee into a floppy but  resealable bag is not, strictly speaking, a one-person job.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Les vetements Canadien

This idea tickles the hell out of me.  Thanks, Stag.

"Planning a European vacation and don’t want to talk American politics with an inquisitive foreigner? A New Mexico T-shirt company suggests going Canadian."

Je ne veux pas vraiment ressembler un homme Canadien...mais j'aime l'idee de cette chemise.  La plupart est parce que j'ai une bonne image de cette pays....

Monday, February 25, 2013


I went to see the endocrinologist, and she started me on a new med to increase the effectiveness of my pancreatic function.  It does work, but it has some interesting side effects. For one, it reduces appetite (not a bad thing), so I've lost a couple of pounds.  It also leads me to sleep two to four hours more per day.

I've got a call into the doc.

Documentary - TWW

It's one of, I beleive, four.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Operation Northern Lights

There are few things that I like better than re-watching West Wing.


Thursday, February 21, 2013


Think I'm getting a cold.  Spent pretty much the entire day in bed with the room heat turned up, dozing and occasionally sleeping.  I didn't even have enough energy to watch a four minute video on French - how strange is that?  I'm going to sleep really well tonight.... or not.


I did not actually need proof that the English, they are a hearty people, but - this  is number one is a list of  'Best Breakfasts in London'.

 I preferred number four, myself....

 .....although number seven has a certain charm as well.



There are times when I think that I'd really like to move to France, or even just to live there for an extended period.  I joked with a French friend that the next time she takes a long trip, I'll come, live in her house, take care of her cat.  And I probably would.  Even if I had to live by myself, I'd do it.

And then I have a low blood sugar crash like I did last night, and my wife was right there, helping me to deal with it - at one point, she tells me, I looked at a container of milk, and at an empty glass, with this clear expression of what am I supposed to do with this? - and I think - what if it happened again?  At night, as usual?  In a place where all the local sources of help speak only French? suis Americain. Je suis un diab├ętique. Je suis malade. And if I get spaced enough,  even that level of communication might be beyond me. 

I'd still go.... but perhaps I'd take precautions, too. As for right now -- as in so many other things, I'm damn glad that she was here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Les Mis, par Une Miss

Morning Thoughts

Every so often, I think in French.  It's not particularly good French, even I know that, but it's French.  For example, I thought the other day, and the phrase that actually flickered through my mind was l'autre jour. I'm tickled by that.

We're starting to make plans to go to France.  The logistics will be challenging, this time.  It may indeed be a smaller country than the US, but that doesn't mean I can spend a decent amount of time in Paris, Beaune, Lyon, Aix-en-Provence, and Toulouse - each of those is a place where (or near to where) one of my contacts lives, and I'd really like to see each of them -  and still be in country only three weeks. . Even at TGV speeds - want to astonish a French person? Tell them our country is much bigger, and we don't have high-speed rail as they do - it takes time to get from here to there. Yeah, as my daughter would say, hashtag first world problems.

I get to go to the dentist today and find out if the graft for the new implant took. I figure it probably did -- I've only had one fail, and that was an animal graft; the grafts from human sources all worked.  What I really don't want is for him to say good god, do you EVER clean those implants? I do, but never, I'm sure, to a dentist's standards.  I suppose that a running joke in dental practices is about how many people say why yes, I floss routinely - and obviously don't.  

Monday, February 18, 2013


Just read the Janus book by Jamie Frevelletti.

My god, she's good.


I was reading this article in Slate about whether girls should have to wear modest clothing- and even as I write that, I flinch, thinking you mean, like burkhas? The article says that the teacher who tells girls that their hemlines are too high is concerned for the effect that it has on boys, while the author says, in effect, let the boys worry about themselves, girls should be able to do as they want.  I tend to agree with that until I get to the point of thinking that's a reasonable approach, but these are teenagers, who  tend to be driven by hormones, not reasonableness. 

I remembered the comic -- I think it was Chris Rock, but I'm not sure -- who said that if he was to wear a policeman's uniform, you might reasonably assume he was a policeman, and scoff when he said no, no, I'm just wearing the uniform.  When you dress like a hooker, it's reasonable to assume you are a hooker.Wearing a miniskirt isn't the same as dressing as a hooker, but it does send a message.  Communication includes understanding the effect of the message on the likely receiver.  Wear a miniskirt?  You're saying one thing.  Wear a longer skirt?  You're saying something else.


The first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning was how do you say UNTIL in French? For the life of me, I could not remember.  Finally, I grabbed the small French dictionary that I keep by the side of the bed (not to be confused with the one that's in the car, or the really small one on the kitchen bookcase, or the electronic one that's on this laptop), and looked it up.  Jusque.  Of course.  I knew that.  How could I possibly not remember it?

It's things like that which drive me crazy.  I have begun to move again in my French capabilities -- I can now listen to French-language videos and understand about 10 or 15 percent of them -- but the first time that I don't know how to say something, I think what an idiot.  I should just stop.  Which, in turn, drives my wife crazy.  I say that I'm not a perfectionist but truthfully there are times that I wonder.

And today, the new mattress arrives.  We did the flop-from-bed-to-bed routine at a local mattress store this past Friday, and when we come to this one, we both thought this is the one.  Whereupon the salesman said why yes, you wanted a mattress with a lot of support and a soft top, this brand is one of the best for that. When I asked him what the difference in support levels was between that one and another that we liked, though not as much, he said Oh, yes, that one is good too, but this one will last longer.  Harrumph.

Mon lit, il m'appelle. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013


First pass through the taxes.  As always, there are forms we don't have, and TubbyTax's 'automatic downloads' work only in fits and starts. Still, two hours later, we're about two thirds done.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Star Wars

I'm not a big fan of articles where someone deconstructs military events.  I'm aware that you need to understand the logic behind military actions in order to successfully replicate them -- including knowing when to do things differently -- but since I'm not in that line of work, I don't care. Lots of people do care; good.

But the battle of Hoth????

Friday, February 08, 2013


Today is our daughter's birthday. Nineteen years ago, I went out in the snow because my wife said that labor was finally starting, and though she knew it was a hassle, she'd really appreciate it if I was there.  The present that I got at the end of it all made all of it worthwhile.

Today, it is snowing about the same amount as it was that day.  My daughter's away at school.  In about one hour, Campus Cookies is going to deliver freshly-based cookies and brownies to her dorm room.  We've already given her part of her gift; another part is in the mail.

And, oh yeah, to commemorate the day, we bought a little something for ourselves, too.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Eye Contact

This is why guys will  never win this one....


I picked up a copy of Linguistics for Dummies the other day, from the librarium, because there was a chapter on learning a second language as an adult, and I thought there might be some hints that could help me.  That section's material can be summarized as:  It's fucking hard. 

On the other hand, yesterday I had my second lesson where I listen to a recording along with my instructor and we work through translating it. This one happened to be about Gerard Depardieu and his winery.  It's not so much his winery, though he does own it; it's the winery that my pal runs for me so that I can pontificate about it.  Though, looking at the sheer size of this guy -- Depardieu is massive -- you get the feeling that he does know food and wine, at least from the consumer side.

When we were done, she said I'd done pretty well.  Now, she always says that kind of thing -- kind of the equivilent of the good job! you give to a one year old who stacked the blocks -- so I demurred -- but, not too much.  Because, just a bit, I actually did understand it. 


There are times when I wish I could just find the people who send in these things and do something really nice for them.  Found here.

(I am an EFL teacher and self-published writer. I am an English major and in several classes focusing on the history and structure of the English language. I am paying my way by working at a call center. I get a caller who sounds reasonably educated.)

Caller: “I want you to tell me if there is a guarantee on this product.”

Me: “I know, sir, but to cont—”

Caller: “Tell me about the guarantee before we get anywhere else.”
Me: “I’ve given you the information on my sidebar, sir. To get further details I need to advance the screen so can you just give me your name—”

Caller: “Just tell me about the guarantee! Guarantee: Latin for get your money back!”

Me: “Latinate.”

Caller: “Pardon me?”

Me: “It’s Latinate, not Latin. We acquired it from the French. Probably Parisian French but I’m not sure in that. Warranty actually comes from the same word, but Norman French has the W sound and other types of French don’t usually. Probably because the Normans were a bunch of Norse Viking types the French gave some land to in order not to be pillaged. The Normans invaded and conquered England and tried to obliterate the English language but only managed to get a bunch of words added. When the English invaded and conquered France a couple of hundred years later, they got the Parisian version of the word with the GU sound. This is why warranty has a more official and stronger meaning than guarantee.”

Caller: “Uh…”

Me: “Now, I have a specific script the client requires us to read about the guarantee. It is important that I read precisely the words they chose without interpretation. To get to that script, I need to process the first screen as if I am taking an order. I am not allowed to read from memory. If you choose not to order, then I just cancel it out and there is no order placed. Can I get your information now, sir?”

Caller: *much calmer* “All right.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013


Ah, Dora.


I have skills, but apparently flying small indoor helicopters is not one of them.  I got one for Christmas, and could not successfully fly it more than once or twice; I got a different type a month later, and could barely fly it without crashing into something.

Ah, well.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Plus? Minus!

Apparently, Google + doesn't have an RSS feed..... I find that startling. There are several sites that offer a service to do it, but I'm always a bit leery of those - I don't know what else they might be doing along the way. Hum, as one of my French partners says.....


Saturday, February 02, 2013


Today I read some Facebook posts by the woman whose sister killed herself.  Tomorrow, my daughter goes to a viewing for a boy who died at the high school, and then we drive for 5 hours to get her back to school.

Wonder what we'll talk about....