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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Enchanted Objects

Let's begin this post with a public service announcement. It's early evening, August 31st, and the pumphouse thermometer looks like this:

The city suggests:
▪ Check on your elderly neighbors.
▪ Never leave children or pets in cars.
▪ Drink plenty of water and avoid very cold drinks.
▪ Take cool showers to lower your body temperature.
▪ Limit your exposure to the sun – stay indoors where it is air-conditioned or go a public place that is air conditioned.
Because of  heat warnings, the city is extending hours at the Downtown Library from Thursday through Monday to serve as a cooling center. The Downtown Library will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. those days. Other cooling centers can be found by calling 211, a health and human service referral hotline. 

Read more here:

What with wildfires in Butte County and Nevada City, it doesn't look like the valley smoke, inversion layer and intense heat will abate anytime soon. California is burning down spectacularly this year.  Norma even stretched a crew-sock around our back doorknob because it's so hot to touch. My intention is to stay indoors and come up with a cool topic. Enchanted objects are cool, so is the voice of Edith Piaf. This is one of my favorite childhood --and adulthood-- animations

If you wish to see the whole cartoon and lyric sung by the incomparable Piaf (and yes it is she, not the Andrews Sisters --who also did a fine job), I recommend the video below. If you are enchanted enough to see the abbreviated toon and hear it in English, sung by the excellent Michael Feinstein, please click on the link below the clip.

Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet. (Michael Feinstein)

My own contribution to this theme is to recommend heat-sufferers find enchanted objects in their own homes. I did, right here in the kitchen. Next two Normaphotos are of a curvaceous coffee grinder who lived in my Grampa's general store from the 1890s 'til 1914. and an Art Deco ice shaver from the '20s. They now occupy the top of the refrigerator and Coffee is on a pedestal I built for her because she's hot stuff. Ice shaver does pretty much the same job on ice, which is cool. They are enchanted objects of similar mechanism and are now holding hands:
This makes Ice Shaver very happy, so he flips his lid in joy. Unfortunately he has a very crazy smile...
but then, when we are in love, who doesn't?

***To those valued email subscribers, here is the link to the longer Piaf version, which somehow got attributed to the Andrews Sisters and subtitled in Spanish.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Darwin Doorbooger Solves An Enigma

In keeping with the previous post's investigation of  lexiconography (which happily drew good comments from good minds), I have decided to reference Helsingør and Word List #8 ,  posted June, 2011 (which didn't get any comments at all) --specifically to investigate question #3:"Has Mercator projection ever been tested on humans?"

Mercator projection is the flat, 1-dimensional, map of the world that rolled down by a shade-pull from a long horizontal cylinder over classroom blackboards when we were schoolkids.However, it distorted the planet to where  North and South Poles were broader than any continents that were  not made out of ice. So I went outdoors (I usually do) and called out, "Darwin? Darwin Doorbooger!" You wouldn't know about my seminars with Darwin Doorbooger without clicking on this blue sentence and reading the entries there below this one. Let us proceed.

Darwin: I'm over here on a geranium leaf.
Geo.: Good heavens, old friend! Are you all right? You look pale.

Darwin: I'm ok. It's just something that happens to older treefrogs.

Geo.: Ah, like my hair going white.

Darwin: What's hair?

Geo.: Nothing important. I came with a question about how the world is mapped.

Darwin: The world, as I see it, extends some few yards around this geranium --maybe 100 feet in circumference, tops.

Geo.: What if I told you it is around 25000 miles in circumference?

Darwin: Now you're just being silly, Geo.

Geo..:  But it's been measured and ascertained as a globe. We have representations in our classrooms, halls of learning --not to mention the hall off my back porch. Look into my mind:
Darwin: What the heck is THAT?

Geo.: It's a simple sinusoidal representation of the planet, showing a more accurate surface of a globe.

Darwin: Geo., your kind thinks in three or four dimensions while we think in zero dimensions, and I'm sure  that map presents human population densities quite well but poses problems and anomalies to shipping lanes and international borders. What if somebody made even more gores, cuts and lobes?

Geo.: They have, Darwin, they have.

Darwin: Well,  that would disrupt borders, divide countries and bisect private properties! You humans need to stop this catastrophic cartology at once! It may approach  accuracy but sends the wrong message.

Geo.: Then upon whom was the Mercator Projection originally tested, if not humans?

Darwin: Treefrogs, of course.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Back To Word List #5

I have lately been accused of using sesquipedalian verbiage in my posts --not by everybody, but by one guy and that's enough. Sesquipedalian just means "lots of syllables", big. In 1966, one of my favorite pastimes was driving over to Willie's house and discussing words. That year, one of the favorite semantic tongue-twisters in general was Antidisestablishmentarianism.  As ususal, Will leaned back smiling in his well-cushioned bamboo chair and asked me what I thought of it. I said I thought it was a 12-jointed godless reptile of a word and had no idea what it meant. He proceeded to parse it out for me. Turned out it started in England had to do with something very important, separation of church and state --and had a fundamental impact worldwide. I think disestablishment won here. Who knows? Will phoned me two days ago from Sonoma and invited me to his 80th, so I'll ask him again.  But to dispel the erroneous notion that my vocabulary tends toward the sesqu... the big, here is a repost of one of a series of Word Lists that introduced my blog so long ago:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Word List #5

[For this installment of Word List, I selected as illustration a map painted by son David, depicting the character of his town, San Francisco.]

This week, a friend in Sonoma wrote to inform me the Forbes Company had named his town one of the ten prettiest in the nation. As a parent, I disagree in principle with Forbes naming his town prettiest. It can only create resentment in other towns and cause them to grow up wrong. Nor does it help to divert admiration from Sonoma and say,"Oh, and here comes our dear little Bakersfield --she's at that oily, awkward stage, but such a nice personality." Also, showing off Sonoma while Cotati suffers a weight problem and her brother, Auburn, peevishly collects guns in the hills will just make her smug and give up on academics.

Unlike the example set by Sonoma's uncommunicative cousin, Richmond, not all mystics smell funny. That is a myth promulgated by his bookish, picayunish brothers, Berkeley and Davis, neither of whom gets out much. In truth, mystics seek the extraordinary experience of all-inclusive reality and bathe often as anybody else.

As a belief or practice, mysticism forms around an enraptured, ineffable state --an ecstatic identification of the self in relation to all things, all events. This sense of totality is expressed by such phrases as,"All is one" and "One is all." You may recognize this as the motto of Alexandre Dumas's THE THREE MUSKETEERS --"tous pour un, un pour tous!"-- a novel demonstrating the need for mystics to be really good swordfighters.

Of course, pretty is as pretty does, which is generally pleasant and I have exaggerated its schismatic potential. But what more effectively causes regional schism is political misbehavior seeking divisions along religio-ethnic lines, and among those who confuse race with phenotype --a problem that cannot be exaggerated. Where that happens I, like Richmond, go mystic: There is only one surviving human race, and it is all of us.  I usually hightail it before answering Jeremiads start their signatory rumbles --except this time. And maybe I smell a little funny too.

  1. I find the work of both father and son enlightening, provocative and delightful, showing once again that a thousand words (more or less) can be as much fun as one picture.
  2. Thanks Will. I'm planning to get a new car and will visit your pretty town again. Even I need to feel pretty sometimes.
    I include Willie's comment to the original text of my blog-glossary because its relevance is undiminished by the years. 

    And to the other guy --who attacked my word usage-- and his toady who attacked my service to this country: people have big chunks of time they don't talk about. So don't prejudge (conclude ahead of facts). You might be ignorantly insulting someone whose patriotism is unimpeachable (can't be rescinded), and may have outranked you. Another good word: PEACE.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Backporch Epiphany

I was meditating in the backporch at a table I built 40 years ago of California pine and Mexican tile when I heard a persistent ringing --not my tinnitus but a lower frequency, somewhat flat. I woke and saw this blue owly thing between the Christmas mug and Las Vegas shot glass.

"Good Lord!" I said, "What're you?"

Owl:  I am an angel.

Geo.: But...but angels are suppose to be..."

Owl:  I know, robed and winged humanoids,  untrained social workers condemned to prop up yesterday's ideologies. We're owls now.

Geo.: Why were people not informed?

Owl: People are as they are, Geo., and it would be an impertinence to expect them to change.

Geo.: Can we not change for the better, Owl?

Owl: Sure, you'd be surprised at what conscience can do. And if that fails, self-delusion and positive thinking can work wonders.

Geo.: I prefer conscience.

Owl: An excellent first step, but victory is only relevant to the strength of the opposition.

Geo.: Flapdoodle!

Owl: An excellent second step! But say it softly. Our influence is finally inversely proportional to the noise we make.

Geo.: I  feel sleepy, Owl.  Is there any thing else?

Owl: Oh yes, much more --much more you must learn-- but in the meantime, be moderate in your behavior and habits, especially where spirits are concerned. There is danger at every turn.

Geo.: Like a bullet with my name on it?

Owl:  Heaven forbid! More likely a shot glass.
 I closed my eyes for what seemed like only a moment, and when I looked again, the shade was up and little blue owl was gone.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Human Race and Horseblankets

I have been mainly away from the computer for some days, possibly a week or more, because I experienced something that had never happened to me before.  I got into a debate. This how the pumphouse thermometer  looked here:
It looked like that again today but we just had a power failure up and down our road. It lasted 45 minutes and our utility district website said this: 
Updated at 9:41 PM August 3rd: Outages
                                                      Affected Communities
                                                          3759 Customers
 It was really dark all of a sudden! Norma called out from another room, "Geo.?!"

I answered, "WHO?

"Geo.!" She repeated.

"I don't know, Norma. It's really dark in the kitchen and I can't see who I am!"

"What happened to the lights?"

"Don't know that either. I'll go check."

I went outside and it was dark, hot and quiet. Yes, I checked the breaker-box even though I knew it was a general blackout. I reported a breeze outside, so we sat on a bench and talked. I like her. She asked me what I had started writing and I told her it was about an unfortunate disagreement with another blogger. She inquired further --as she always does-- and I said something about a dispute over a horse blanket. By and by the electrics were restored and I returned to whatever it was.

So I returned to this post. Various Latin phrases unpiled in my mind: homo quisquilrian -mankind the litterer; homo factorum claustris --mankind the cage-builder; homo sapiens --mankind the wise.  These are various names that collected in the dark, but they have in common a single idea. There is only the all-encompassing human race. I told my pen-pal so, and was rewarded with the accusation that I was a traitor to the white race. I replied, there is no white race. We are all of the human race and the variations are only phenotypes --surface differences among ethnicities-- and I am not worried about what color humans will be in the future.

He is very worried about what color they will be and accused me of "white genocide"--my family is mixed.  I gradually withdrew from his blog over a period of a week, thinking the temperature in the the Mohave, where he is, rises beyond the capacity of my pumphouse thermometer --in fact would bend the needle right off-- and somehow addled his thinking. It is more comforting to believe that than believe --despite the fact he is younger than I-- that, unlike other fossils, he is petrifying from the inside out.

I don't even have a horse.