PASS ME THAT BABEL FISH

Take That, Rosetta!

If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?


French, because there are so many books I want to read in the original language that were written in French. I studied it in school, but over the years, lost it to Hebrew and the erosion of time. I’d love to read the Angelique books that have never been translated … and reread the others that were translated so poorly. French poetry, Dumas (Pere et Fils) … the original romantic adventure series. All written in French.

Movies! Understanding without subtitles.

Poetry! Classics! Baudelaire, Voltaire, Balzac.

Babel-fish

Actually, I would like to have a Babel fish. The one Douglas Adams invented.

Just stick it in your ear and all the languages of the entire universe are yours to understand. No language barriers exist. No tongue is impenetrable.

That would be the trick!

I’M READY FOR MY CLOSEUP MR. DEMILLE

CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE: CLOSEUPS

This week’s topic is Close Ups. I know I just used this topic for my Black & White Challenge. I set their schedules differently, so I had failed to realize the two topics of Closeup would run almost back to back. I would suggest using some bright and vibrant color on this one.

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If only I had a macro lens. I yearn for one, but I haven’t been able quite to afford it. It has remained just out of reach.

UP CLOSE KAITY PROM PORTRAIT

My closest shooting lenses are a 20mm (40mm field of vision) Leica/Panasonic for my 4/3 Olympus and an 8.5mm (50mm FOV) for the Pentax Q7. The latter will focus as close as 8 inches. It’s not quite a normal prime nor a true wide-angle but is a bit of both.

December bouquet

The 8.5mm lens for the Q7 is marketed as a normal prime. It isn’t, really.

buds on the trees in April

The optical qualities of an 8.5mm versus a 50mm lens differ enormously, even when the field of vision is similar. I have found this to be one of the hardest concepts in photography to understand and explain. It took me a long time to wrap my head around it.

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Therefore, as close as it shoots, my 8.5mm Pentax lens is not a macro lens. It is fast, sharp, and I enjoy using it, but true macro work requires optical qualities I don’t have.

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Luckily, I have an excellent portrait lens. I can’t imagine ever needing to take a portrait closer than my 45mm (90mm field of vision) Olympus lens can focus.

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LIFE IN THE REAL DESERT: WESTERNS AND OLD MOVIES

Marilyn Armstrong:

The best affectionate analysis of this genre I have ever read … and I’ve read a lot of them. Beautifully written. If you love Westerns, you’ll love this. Promise!!

Originally posted on Mikes Film Talk:

Town sign outside of Burger King
My life in the real desert thus far has consisted of much more than personal injury and the shock of having no television. It includes the reading of old western favorites and movies that remain in the collection. Split into blu-ray, NTSC, Region 0 and Pal, the DVDs are spread out between RV and 5th wheel. In terms of stimulation, the tales by Louis L’Amour are hard to beat. Each story a sort of male romance novel built around rugged and hard men who must either fight, solve a mystery or puzzle, or defeat a villain who has designs on the girl of the protagonist’s dreams.

It took me awhile to figure out that these adventure stories of the old west were, in fact, the male answer to Harlequin Romance. These gunfighters, gamblers, cowboys, miners, lawmen, soldiers and so on are all just men searching for something. In the books…

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IF THAT MOCKINGBIRD DON’T SING

When we lived in Boston, a mockingbird used to sit on the rail of our stoop and shout imprecations at the two dogs and the cat, Big Guy. It made them crazy. They wanted that bird so bad.

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One fateful day, I was walking the dogs. Mockingbird was perched on the wire over our head, yelling at us. Then he flew down to the garden, perhaps to refuel with a seed or two. Divot, the Norwich Terrier, lunged into the garden (it was one of those stretchy leads). There was a flutter, another flutter, a chomp, chomp.

Divot emerged from the garden, the mockingbird in her smiling jaws. She passed the bird to her partner, Pagan, the big hairy hound (PBGV or Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen) as if they had been practicing for years.

Together, like the thoroughbreds they were, they trotted homeward where Big Guy was clinging to the screen door, apparently aware of all the events that had transpired. Meanwhile, I was trying to wrench the bird from Pagan’s jaws before we went into the house where Big Guy was waiting to get his jaws around the prize.

Garry Kaity Divot RiverBend

Here ye oh Mockingbirds! This is a cautionary tale for mouthy birds. Don’t taunt the dogs. Or the cats. They may be smarter than you think.

EIGHT IN THE MORNING – WHY IS THE PHONE RINGING?

There’s a myth circulating about senior citizens, that we are up with the birds and asleep before sunset. An entire culture has been built on “Early Bird Specials.” Because old people purportedly eat dinner by 4pm.

I eat around four, but I call it lunch. Dinner is around eight. Please call before you show up.

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In my experience older people, especially retired ones, are up when they feel like getting up. They go to bed when they feel ready to sleep. For us, that’s around one in the morning or later (earlier?). Even when we should go to bed earlier (because we have something we need to do in the morning), “Just one more show?” always wins over “Are you ready to go in yet?”

Thus when the phone rang at eight this morning, I wasn’t happy. I’ve recently changed my phone. At least my new ring tone — a Mozart sonata — is pleasant. Not like the old one which had all the grace of a nail gun to the head.

It took me a few moments to reconnoiter, to recognize the source of the sound. The phone, Marilyn. It’s the phone.

When I’m awake and focused, I don’t answer calls from “Unknown Callers,” survey companies, or 800 numbers. None of them are people to whom I want to speak. Most of them aren’t people. They are recorded messages (talk about annoying).

I can’t see the caller ID from the bed. It’s easier to snake my hand around the lamp and grab the phone.

I see an unfamiliar name on the caller ID.

“Hello?” Big improvement on my usually hostility-tinged “Yes?”

“Good morning, this is Rita from the Milford Daily Telegram.”

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Speechless, I stared at the receiver in my hand, trying to get through the clouds in my brain to remember what to do next.

“Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?”

I was there, sort of. Shortly, I remembered what to do. I clicked “End.” Put the phone down. Plumped the pillow and went back to sleep. I was pissed, though well short of a killing frenzy. I save murderous rages for back-stabbing former friends and moronic customer disservice personnel. I’ve outlived most of the back-stabbers — in which there is some weird consolation — and no matter how frothing at the mouth crazed I may get at customer service drones, I recover almost immediately. I may not even remember the details an hour later.

Actual solicitation calls, of which this was one, should not be coming at all. I’m on the “DO NOT CALL” list. Nonetheless, I get up to a dozen or more such calls every day. If I’m alert, I don’t answer them. When I don’t recognize the name but doubt it’s anyone I know, I respond with a hostility-laden “Yes?”

Note: Putting yourself on a “Do Not Call” list seems the perfect way to distribute your phone number to organizations who want to sell your data to spammers.

Why eight in the morning? Anytime they call me will be annoying, but do they believe they can sell me something if they call before I have time to drink my coffee? Or my defenses down because I’m not fully awake?

What they accomplish is to rob me of a couple of hours of badly needed sleep. I curse them for that. Sleep is precious. Nobody should attempt to solicit anything from anybody before eleven. Or ever, if it were up to me.

I’m sorry about not having a criminal rampage to report. I promise to write about it as soon as something appropriate triggers one.


 

MAD AS A HATTER

But why is the hatter mad? Did his hats not sell? Is he mentally unbalanced or merely angry? Inquiring minds want to know.

WAITING FOR SPRING: CHANGING SEASONS 04

Monthly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons 04

This time last month, we were buried. Ten feet of snow blanketed everything. Icicles hung heavy from the eaves. Ice covered the Blackstone River.

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Then the rain came. It rained steadily, every day and most nights for almost two weeks. When the rain stopped, the snow was gone. Or nearly gone.

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Last week, we got the last snow of this winter. Part snow, sleet, and hail, it laid down two inches and melted the next morning.

After the snows melt, but before the flowers bloom, there is a pre-spring. The end of March and most of April is a time of naked trees. There are buds and some few early flowers. Suddenly, in the middle of May, the world bursts into color. Trees flower and gardens are full of lilies.

spring buds by the river

Not yet, however. Only the crocus have dared to show their flowery heads. Everything waits.

FIVE EXAMPLES OF SENSIBLE VIOLENCE

We’ve all heard of senseless violence. The term is nearly as common as “stay in the car.” Everyone knows no one stays in the car and “senseless violence” implies there’s another kind. The sensible kind.

sensible violence

Reasonable, well thought-out violence.

1. “He needed killing” (really, I kid you not) is still accepted in some American courtrooms as a defense against a charge of murder. If he needed killing and you kill him, you have committed an act of sensible violence.

2. “No one was supposed to get hurt.” You held up the bank using automatic weapons. You just wanted some money. To improve your life. You had a perfect plan which went unaccountably wrong. “But your Honor, no one was supposed to get hurt!”

3. “I had no choice.” You could have gotten a divorce, but you were put off by all the paperwork, lawyers, and courts. In the spirit of cleanliness and reduction of paperwork, you killed your husband and shoved his body in the washing machine in the basement laundry room. Sensible and tidy.  “Your Honor, he really pissed me off. And it wasn’t easy getting him down the stairs and into the machine.”

4. “Anyone in my position would have done the same thing.” Really, no kidding. Anyone. Because it was the only reasonable response. “Your Honor, she burned the roast. I had to dismember her and hang her body parts on stakes in the yard. Anyone would have done the same thing.” Sensible violence was the only answer.

5. “I lost my temper.” You said I wouldn’t like you when you are angry. You were completely right.

So you see? Not all violence is senseless. If you didn’t mean it, you had no choice, your plan went awry … it’s all good. Absolutely sensible.


 DICK CHENEY’S SEX APPEAL

WELCOME TO HOLA! — HOMINID OVERVIEW OF LOST ARTS

The horrors of the late 21st century were — as we all know — at the root of the collapse of hominids as Earth’s dominant species. It is a cautionary tale for every species — two, four, six, or eight-legged.

Insults to Earth had accumulated over many centuries. It would be unfair — and inaccurate — to lay the entire blame for the disaster on earth’s twenty-first century humans. Nonetheless, it is equally impossible to excuse their failure to take measures that could have short-circuited the holocaust. To this day, their silence in the face of their demise is impenetrable to us, the remaining species of our planet.

what the frackThe final breach of the planet’s integrity was the corporate sponsorship of “fracking.” Cracking the earth’s core caused major instability everywhere it was practiced. History tells of the violent earthquakes which destroyed entire regions. The loss of North America’s West Coast and the formation of the Kansas seacoast are permanent reminders.

One of our most popular exhibits is a virtual trip through the submerged cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. If you are interested in this tour, please sign up at the Activities desk in the lobby. Participation is by appointment only.

The birth of active and highly destructive volcanoes was another direct result of fracking. Newly born volcanoes burst from the ground in regions like New England and the Midwest. The desolation of cities and farmland, the concomitant poisoning of aquifers, wholesale elimination of other species, the demise of bees and other pollinators resulted in global defoliation and total crop failure.

Most noteworthy, the loss of the life-giving Amazon rain forests made it impossible for humankind to make a comeback as a species. I know there are those among you — especially our canine citizens — who mourn the loss of humans. We share your pain. We believe other cross-species relationships will fill that gap. Apes, monkeys, elephants and other creatures stand ready to help you through this difficult time.

Some progress has been achieved by reinventing tennis balls. Please note the big green ball bins located throughout this building. You are free to grab as many balls as you can carry in your jaws and are welcome keep them as souvenirs on your departure.

Despite the evidence before their eyes, human beings remained absorbed by their petty concerns. Hooked to devices and mobile gadgets, they ignored the world around them until the world was no longer there.

These artifacts from the peak of human inventiveness are a poignant reminder of what can happen to a dominant civilization. The banning of electronic communication (2074 and afterward) was insufficient to restore human culture. Even the replacement of internal combustion engines with vehicles powered by sun, wind –and in the case of dirigibles, hot air — were not nearly enough.

Too little, too late. How sad the community of nations failed to act in coördination until the glaciers had already eliminated so much that can never be restored.

We at the Hominid Overview of Lost Arts (HOLA) work to uncover remnants of human civilization wherever it lies buried. Whether under the glacial plains of Europe and North America or in the rubble pits of the Indian Subcontinent, our army of archeologists is ever-busy. Someday, we hope to understand the entirety of the calamity.

Welcome to our exhibit. Please remove your shoes at the door. Our rugs are soft and comfortable. Sound boosting equipment is available free from the Courtesy Desk.

Please remember your company manners. Rude, annoying, loud, or obnoxious individuals will be forcibly ejected without warning.

Thank you, and welcome to HOLA!


From the Collection of the Artist – A hundred years from now, a major museum is running an exhibition on life and culture as it was during our current historical period. You’re asked to write an introduction for the show’s brochure. What will it say?