Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Chet hit a nerve; these are most of my Czech translation notebooks. Haven't done much of anything since...uh...summer of 2009? Hrm. Lousy school.

Fuks notebooks

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More 251 club action.

It's hard to muster the energy to blog myself when there is an abler chronicler already on task. I'm Gigantor, if that weren't obvious.

Friday, August 06, 2010

A teaser...

One of the things I did on my two-week trip to Vermont recently was a tour of the Northeast Kingdom.

One of the other things I did on my vacation is sprain my left ankle, so this teaser will have to remain for now.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

be never once out of a delirium

Recognize the rotundity of the earth
with an invocation for Divine guidance and aid
The question is one which has exercised many investigators.
You will have fearful chilblains if you do so.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

on Italian chickens

If the Italian city of Livorno goes by "Leghorn" in English, does that make the Loony Tunes' chicken's first name "Fovorno?"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

the same idea translated in terms of art

I acquired this book recently; for those who don't want to click on a meaningless Amazon link, it is "Kenkyusha's New Dictionary of English Collocations: A Word Finder." In less delightful terms, it purports to express a broader semantic range of English concepts for the Japanese learner by translating giving sample usages instead of definitions. The...interesting nature of some of the sample collocations makes this book an excellent way to pass the time, as one sample entry will (I hope) show. I can't read the Japanese of the introduction, so I have no way of knowing what the emphasis on non-entry words is intended to express.

express the juice of the grape
generate the gastric juice
squeeze the juice from the poor
[There is] no juice on.
a sweet watery juice

I trust we all have a broader understanding of the nuances of the word "juice" now. I know I do.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Still plugging away at a project from 2004, naturally...

"The crematorium, Mr. Strauss, is a truly divine thing. It helps the Lord God in hastening the return of man to dust. Imagine if men were made from some indestructible material. If that were the case…” Mr. Kopfrkingl shrugged his shoulders, looking at the elderly woman in glasses holding a beer, “then give him to the earth; but man, fortunately, is not indestructible. Do you know how long it takes before a buried man turns to dust? Twenty years, and even then the whole skeleton does not disintegrate. In the crematorium the process takes a mere seventy-five minutes, skeleton included, when you place the body into the coke-fired stove. People sometimes raise the objection that Jesus Christ was not cremated, however. This is true, Mr. Strauss,” Mr. Kopfrkingl smiled, “but that was something else altogether. I always tell these dear people this: they embalmed the Savior, wrapped him in linen and entombed him under a stone slab in a cave. No one is going to do the same for you, embalm you and wrap you in linen and put you in a cave…and the argument, Mr. Strauss, that the coffin cracks underground beneath the weight of the earth, and that it might hurt when the earth collapses on the head, that argument of course does not hold up, for when a man is, “Mr. Kopfrkingl tilted his head, “dead, he will not feel it any more…but there is yet another argument for cremation. Look, Mr. Strauss, if people were not allowed to be cremated, but were only buried in the ground, then what would we use the ovens for?”

from Burner of Corpses, chapter 1

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gritting my teeth and diving into the past

     Reworking some sections of a book I started in on over five years ago. It's good to see my first work is still almost entirely usable, but there are some sentential-level techniques I'm only now working out. There are sections that are sloppy. I always worried about looking at early work, like it would be utterly neotenous compared to the masterpieces I'm obviously producing now in my more mature years (ahem) but in any event I'm hoping to move more works into the "finalized" category and get them out of my mental space, and maybe force myself out of my cowardice/apathy about submissions and publishing in general.

Nothing creepy about this loving father below!

     “So this is Prague,” said Mr. Kopfrkingl, turning his gaze from the young pink-cheeked girl in the black dress to his left, “it is beneath us as though it were in our palms. As if we stood on a high peak and regarded the world spreading out beneath us. There is the Vltava, Charles Bridge, the National Theater,” he said, “those two towers are the Týn Church, the tower closer to us it the old town hall, and the truncated one behind it is the Powder Tower….the National Museum is over there, and the big white modern building behind it in Vinohrady is the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord. Mili, look through this glass,” he told Mili, pointing at a pane of smoky yellow glass, and when Mili looked, he said: “That bit of glass is the same color as the glass we have in the incinerator windows. The most sacred windows of the world, for through them one can see directly into the kitchen of the Lord God as the soul separates from the body and flies up into the ether. Show me how our Prague looks through that glass.” He bent over and looked at then raised his head again and said: “It is true. Our Prague is beautiful.”

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Hirsute, horror, urchin

Proto-Indo-European had (it is reconstructed) a root *ghers- meaning "bristle."

A suffixed form with -tu in Latin gives us hirsūtus, whence "hirsute."

A lengthened form *ghēr gives (h)ēriciōnem "hedgehog" in Latin, which winds its way through various Frankish dialects until it emerges in English at yrichon in the 13th century, becoming "urchin," later acquiring the denotation of "ragamuffin."

And a suffixed ablaut form gives us he verb horērre, whence English "horror."

I originally laced these together when I realized I didn't know the derivation of urchin, and the semantic threads are fairly early to follow. [I have bitten bradshaw of the future's style here for a moment, if poorly, but still in good fun.]

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A brief manifesto

     I love massive, completist geographical projects, and a bike is an excellent way to set one in motion. Get as big a map as you can and a marker and start shading in street as you ride them.

     I went a little crazy in Santa Cruz with this in May of 2008 after a breakup and got a compass to mark off concentric circles from certain locations. I've now been on more than 99% of the paved roads (and some unpaved alleys) west of the river in Santa Cruz--probably been on every street except a few up off Empire Grade by campus. (Empire Grade ate a frame when I was rocking a single-speed; it's hard to crank up there.) It was a fun way to plan day trips and lunch breaks from work, and great for building an intuitive sense of how the city fit together in ways that were intensely personal. I've had situations where I'm leaving someone's house in a neighborhood I rarely go to but still have a mental map of the entirety of the surrounding streets. I grew my own heads-up display, basically.

     It's not necessarily for everyone (I really, really like maps). The great part about grandiose plans is that you can ignore them and just get lost and have fun. I ended up cruising down a lot of residential streets and sketchy areas and boring subdivisions, (and got a few odd looks when I would bike by the same intersection three times in five minutes, or up a short dead-end street only to turn away grinning) and it got a lot harder to "knock off a few streets" as the streets I hadn't been on receded increasingly far away.

     Restlessness is one possible side effect, too. Having been on every street on the West Side, it's impossible for me to get lost or make new street grid discoveries, and the challenge of getting to the new ones can seem insurmountable. The new environments to map are farther off, and this detracts from the spontaneity of the original experience. But that's the beauty of it all. I get to see much more of the city around me than the paths of home-work-bar-beach. All the tiny little nooks and funny ways to hack the city to meet my needs, the shortcuts that wouldn't occur to people--they really help keep my physical surroundings an organic whole.


(walking your town would be a better manifesto, but these are some notes from 2008 that I've decided to transcribe and get out of my hair. Plus I should be tuning my bicycle, and bicycle theory is a great way to procrastinate on that.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Limiting Magnitude triangles!

I remember these from...high school? Hadn't done much with them, and I won't tonight, but foggy nights are good for organization and theory, I suppose.

Establishing limited magnitude.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Bad Night of Stargazing Beats a Good Day At Work

Got out tonight about 11:30; clear skies in large chunks but definitely a frustrating evening. Canopus might have been above the horizon but fog banks rendered it pretty invisible. I might have been able to get as close as tau Puppis. Oh well. Could definitely resolve most if not all of Puppis and gamma Velorum to boot, so a good swath of the summer sky extending east towards Hydra and west towards what I presume to have been the vicinity of Caelum and Pictor? Anyway. Praesepe in Cancer was right overhead but nigh-impossible to resolve with my binoculars, Andromeda was fuzzy and indistinct, M79 was utterly elusive although I think I know where to look, Arcturus was hidden in fog over West Cliff though it might be out now...

Still, I suppose it to be a victory that I knew exactly where all of these things should have been; my "global" knowledge seems not to have suffered in a weather-and-sickness-related lapse in stargazing...

[Edit: ooo, and apparently that was Saturn rising in Virgo. Good to know.]

Monday, January 04, 2010


Good New Year's so far; housemates and dogs filtering back into the house, so much sun it's not even funny, and even daily reading and writing, which had eluded me for a little while.

And dorky cephalopod evolutionary poetry. Where else would I put this?