Demystification Guru

Just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean it isn't understandable.

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Friday, June 29, 2007

Proust and Glory

June 29
In a previous entry, I wondered about Proust in the comments. The reason I have been thinking about Proust is mostly because of the entries at Orange Crate Art, a blog by an English prof. Now, he has an entire entry on how to read Proust so I'm wondering what excuse I can use to continue to avoid reading "Remembrance of Things Past". And is that the same as "In Search of Lost Time" except for the translation? Okay it is, I looked it up in Wikipedia.

Phrase for the day:

sic transit gloria mundi: So the glory of this world passes away. (An exclamatory phrase used at the installations of the popes.)

Sic transit gloria mundi is a Latin phrase that means "Thus passes the glory of the world," but is more commonly interpreted as "Fame is fleeting."

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Friday, June 22, 2007

about birthdays

June 22

As if I need another reason to like The Manolo, he feels about birthdays the same way I do! Next year will be the big five-o for me and I plan to stretch that celebration out as long as I can, somewhat the way we are doing this year for our 25th anniversary. I actually haven't planned anything yet, but I'm thinking about it.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

my second day on the build

Welcome to the Summer Solstice. I spent yesterday at the Habitat for Humanity "Women Build" and it was as fun at the first day, even though it was a longer day and not as hot.
After the build on June 20
When I got home, it was about 6pm and I changed the dirty shirt I'd worked in all day for the new pink Women Build shirt they gave us volunteers. Here I am, pretending to flex my biceps.
After the build on June 20
Here is the back of the shirt. At the bottom, under the blueprint drawing it says "My plans for the weekend". Fun stuff.
H4H NCR build 2007
This is Sam, who worked most of the day with me as a small team building sill plates. She is standing on the scaffolding inside the basement walls and her hands are resting on a sill plate. It is just a 2 by 6 bolted to the concrete but it in turn is resting on a foam gasket to which is applied some sticky black goop by means of a caulking gun. We had to walk around on the scaffolding, measuring the sections of the foundation and then asking for a 2 by 6 to be cut to a certain size. When we got the 2 by 6, we would rest it on top of the bolts and then bang a hammer onto it to mark the underside with the ends of the bolts. Having first pencilled the word "UP" on the proper side of the 2 by 6, we would then turn it over to see the bolt marks and then drill holes through the board for the bolts. My pecs hurt today from all the work done, just on sill plates.
H4H NCR build 2007
By 3pm, we had still not finished our work but the people who lent us the scaffolding wanted it back and so we were reduced to applying the sill plates using ladders from the outside of the foundation. We thought it was hard work before but now we had to climb up and down ladders and move them for every section of the foundation.
H4H NCR build 2007
Sam took this picture with my camera, of the other work that was also going on. The main beam for the house had to be constructed on the spot and other crew members nailed together four layers of 2 by 10s (maybe they were 2 by 8s, I'm not sure) and then had to hoist it up into one slot in the foundation wall and support it with expansion posts along its length and at the other end - the common wall for the duplex. Then they started putting up the floor joists and Sam and I had to hurry up with the sill plates on the common wall or we would have had no room on the side where the scaffolding was.
H4H NCR build 2007
This gives you a good idea of the excavation. The truck had arrived to take away the scaffolding and Chris was working at getting it out of the foundation and onto the green truck - along with a bunch of other people - I don't know why he is all alone in this photo.
H4H NCR build 2007
The site is located on a small residential street but we access it for convenience by way of a vacant lot on Main Street. The sign advertising the build was originally at the proper entrance to the lot but they moved it yesterday to the Main Street side and attached it to the giant storage bin that looks like a dumpster but isn't. On the far left of this photo are two marquees that shelter tables, chairs, benches and belongings. They get stored every night in the big bin and put up each morning at 7 when crew shows up.
H4H NCR build 2007
I won't be working at the build again until August but I am already looking forward to it. The professional crew are great to work for and the volunteers are great to work with. (I put all 20 photos up at my Flickr site so you can check them out.)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

word for today

June 19, 2007
bathos: 1. a ludicrous descent from the exalted or lofty to the commonplace; anticlimax.
2. insincere pathos; sentimentality; mawkishness.
3. triteness or triviality in style.
—Synonyms 2. maudlinness, tearfulness; mush, gush, schmaltz. 3. insipidity, inanity.

I often have to look up words at the blogs I really like - I like the more challenging writers. What's the fun if it's all bland and boring stuff you can get anywhere? Of course, I still don't like (or get, I guess) post-modern type writers. I tried, really I did, reading The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje but couldn't get into it. And that was after I saw the movie and so understood the concept. Why can't writers write more like David Lodge who once described deconstructionism as sawing through the branch of a tree while sitting on the distal end of the same branch. Actually he did it better than that but I couldn't find the quote, which I remember from reading one of his books - probably "Nice Work", back in 1996.

Anyway, I found "bathos" in A Dress A Day today, which does have to do with dresses but also is about good writing.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

not a new word but I couldn't spell it

June 18, 2007
Forbearance. I had originally written it "forebearance" and it got underlined by the spell-check. I tried "forebearence" but that didn't work either. Finally I looked up "forebear" and it said it meant one's ancestors. Well, that wasn't right. So I left off the first "e" and was able to find out that the root of the word I wanted was spelled "forbear".
1. to refrain or abstain from; desist from.
2. to keep back; withhold.
3. Obsolete. to endure.
4. to refrain; hold back.
5. to be patient or self-controlled when subject to annoyance or provocation.

I was writing a comment on Jenny's blog. Her newest puppy to raise for Guide Dogs is quite the handful and I am in sympathy as Rockwell could also be the handful.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

About the Bike

I mentioned over at my sewing blog that we are getting a tandem for our 25th anniversary. It is a travel bike from Bike Friday and will be added to our collection of bikes:
bike collection
There's a lot to the ordering of it because everything is custom and you have to choose which components you want, which bars, which everything, including colour. And the tubes are cut to the measurements we provide so it should fit us really well.

In the meanwhile, I have been gardening and planted a bunch of bean seeds when I couldn't find any bean plants at the Loblaws or the Home Depot (three million green pepper plants but no beans). I didn't think the beans would sprout because I'd been trying to sprout them in egg crates for weeks and nothing was happening. So I shoved many seeds in the ground and then forgot about them until last night when we were sitting out and I looked and said (in Scotty's voice), "Look Captain! There be beans here!" You have to be a Star Trek IV fan to get it, sorry.
Capt'n!  There be beans here!
Now I will have to cull some of them and maybe plant them where there is a little room in the south garden. That sounds so grand "the south garden". It's just the three foot wide strip on the south side of the patio.

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Habitat Build

I had a really fun day yesterday, working at the Habitat for Humanity "Women Build" here near Ottawa (Stittsville to be exact). There were men and women there and at least a dozen of us, so even when we were sitting around waiting for the gravel truck (not just any kind but a Stone Slinger!), we had people to talk with and found things to do. There were two women in the military and I talked with one young woman (only 18 and there after finishing her first year at Waterloo) whose family had also raised a guide dog puppy!

I got a blister hammering window forms but that was my own fault because I took off my work gloves because it was difficult to pick the nails out of my tool belt pockets. The minister of the local church just down the street came in the morning to give us a blessing and then lunch was supplied by The Works at that church and we were helped by the local church ladies. They had even set the tables with cloths and vases of beautiful peonies.

I'm scheduled to work again next Wednesday and hope to remember to bring my camera. Along with my own tape measure and hammer, as they were in short supply. If my schedule permits, I want to continue work at the site when they start up again in August - they are not doing any work in July (not clear why). But I'm glad I went.


Friday, June 08, 2007

some answers, maybe

June 8, 2007

I was reading Kent's Bike Blog just now. I like the way he writes and I like what he writes about. This time he was writing about this fellow sort of busking by the side of the road. Although the busker was also trying to spread the word about Jesus, Kent was more appreciative of his bicycle and bike accessories. They had a nice conversation about bikes and cars, about learning, and about how we don't need much stuff. I was going to put a simple comment on the blog entry as follows: "The message is always out there. We just need to be ready to hear it." But then I thought it might be misconstrued as being about Jesus and I really meant it as a more general comment on how we can always learn something about anything in life. So I decided to take a break from my run of definitions and put the comment here. Although, I must say I had to use to look up "busking" because my spell-check thought it was wrong. But it is a verb now.

Anyway, there is one philosophy I have learned the hard way:
"The message is always out there. We just need to be ready to hear it."
Maybe others have articulated it, I don't know, but this is one of my own answers to the question of "life, the universe and everything". The main philosophy that I have articulated over the years, in answer to the questions about how we can make life easier is "Pay Attention". It works for everything. Try it.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

word for today

June 7, 2007

an·te·bel·lum  (ān'tē-běl'əm) adj.   Belonging to the period before a war, especially the American Civil War.
[Latin ante bellum : ante, before + bellum, war.]

I knew it was "before" something but didn't pause long enough to parse "bellum" into its other incarnations such as "bellicose" or war-like. When I was in grades 3 through 5, we lived in the tidewater area of Virginia and we visited many of the antebellum plantations on school trips and family outings. For some reason, I confuse this word with "antediluvian" which is "before the flood". On the other hand -- "war", "flood" -- they both tend to end up as a big mess that someone has to clean up.

I was reading this entry at Orange Crate Art and it got me thinking.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

word for today

June 5, 2007
ped·a·go·gy  [ped-uh-goh-jee, -goj-ee] –noun, plural -gies.
1. the function or work of a teacher; teaching.
2. the art or science of teaching; education; instructional methods.

[Origin: 1575–85; < Gk paidagōgía office of a child's tutor.]

ped·a·gog·ic  (pěd'ə-gŏj'ĭk, -gō'jĭk) adj.  
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of pedagogy.
2. Characterized by pedantic formality: a haughty, pedagogic manner.

I may end up working with someone to develop a workshop about blogs and teaching but that's another story. In the meantime, I was looking into the subject and I noticed that one of the words used a lot by people at the college (or so it seems to me) is "pedagogy" and it is used instead of the word "teach". Now, I think it's a good idea to have a large vocabulary and to exercise it as much as one can. But there are some words that don't work for me and this is one of them. Perhaps my negative view of the word comes from the second meaning of "pedagogic" above. Merely using the word "pedagogic" seems hoity-toity and reinforces the negativity.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

another word

June 4, 2007

se·que·la  [si-kwee-luh] –noun, plural -lae Pathology.
an abnormal condition resulting from a previous disease.

se·quel·a (sĭ-kwěl'ə) n.   pl. se·quel·ae (-kwěl'ē)
1. A pathological condition resulting from a disease.
2. A secondary consequence or result.

In Schedule 3 (Occupational diseases) of one of the Regulations to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, one of the headings was: "Poisoning and its Sequelae". I am reading the Act and Regulations in order to inform myself before I take a computer test to try to qualify as an adjudicator to the WSIA Tribunal. I figured I could guess what "sequelae" was but thought I should look it up to be sure.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

words for today

May 31, 2007

cop·pice (kŏp'ĭs)
n.   A thicket or grove of small trees or shrubs, especially one maintained by periodic cutting or pruning to encourage suckering, as in the cultivation of cinnamon trees for their bark.
I was watching a video and the author used the word "copiced" in a written comment while filming an open brush area of the forest where she walks her dogs. I am guessing she may have spelled it incorrectly but then turned it into a verb to make a point. Interesting growth of the language.

June 1, 2007

Fettle. I've certainly heard of it before but it has always been used in the expression "fine fettle" and today Lileks used it this way: "Actually, I’m in a passable fettle" so I thought I'd look up the origins to see if it could be used that way other than in humour.
1. state; condition: in fine fettle.
–verb (used with object)
2. Ceramics. to remove mold marks from (a cast piece).
3. Metallurgy.
a. to remove sand from (a casting).
b. to repair the hearth of (an open-hearth furnace).

[Origin: 1300–50; ME fetle to shape, prepare, back formation from fetled, OE fetelede girded up, equiv. to fetel belt + -ede ]