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Friday, April 29, 2005

I FEEL MUCH SAFER NOW 

A slideshow of two penguins passing through airport security. (Via Catarina.net)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

OH, SO THEY HAVE THE INTERNET ON COMPUTERS NOW! 

We've all grown used to the fact that the MSM is a little slow on the uptake Internet-wise. But there's slow and then there's slooooow, as this bit by baseball blogger Aaron Gleeman illustrates:
During one of Jason Bartlett's at-bats last night, Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven discussed whether or not Chuck Knoblauch batted second in the Twins' lineup (like Bartlett has this season) when he was a rookie back in 1991. They described how, in trying to find out the answer, they asked players on that 1991 team like Dan Gladden and Jack Morris, and also unsuccessfully scoured the team's media guide for information. And all they could come up with in the end was, "As best as we can tell, Knoblauch did bat second."

The funny thing is, while Bremer and Blyleven were discussing Knoblauch's place in the batting order, I typed "Retrosheet.org" into my web browser and found the information they had been searching for within 30 seconds. The answer? Knoblauch had 460 at-bats batting second in 1991, along with 85 at-bats leading off, and a total of 20 at-bats hitting in other spots in the lineup. In addition to that, I can also tell you that he batted .298/.369/.374 in the #2 spot, compared to just .200/.250/.247 leading off.

The most shocking thing about this is not that the information is so easily found online (I have learned to assume that everything is available online until proven otherwise), but rather that not a single person associated in any way with the television broadcast of an MLB team is aware of its availability.
Indeed. I happened to be watching the Twins game during the exchange Gleeman writes of, and I remember thinking, "C'mon, how hard can it be to find this out?" But the laptop was in another room and I forgot all about it until I read Gleeman's post today.

And speaking of Twins blogs, while Gleeman and Twins Geek may be Sports Center, Batgirl is The Daily Show. Where else can you find an entire Twins-themed musical (featuring, among many other things, an extreme falsetto tribute by Justin Morneau to his departed co-Canuck mentor Corey Koskie)? Or a deeply disturbing pictorial investigation of who would be the hottest Twin if they were chicks? Or a Lego reenactment of the fabled Dan Gladden-Steve Lombardozzi fight of 1988? Bookmark it now if you haven't already.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

NUTS 

Spring in Minnesota is not for the faint of heart. After teasing us with the promise that summer is coming soon today it goes a ha! Sucker.

I've lived here long enough to know better but it's not my deep Minnesota experience that saves me from prematurely stowing away my warm wrappings. It's sheer laziness. Laziness larded with the procrastination wisdom I've picked over the years from the Warrior Monk. Yes, I've learned a lot from the Monk.

And from others too. I once had a friend who used to purposefully leave money in the pockets of her coats before putting them away for the season. The delight at finding cash while rummaging for gloves helped dull the pain of being forced to don protective anti-weather gear. While I'm still not prescient enough to plant money myself, I do fondly remember finding a twenty during an impoverished period in my life and can see her point. It kind of makes one's day sometimes.

When I reluctantly pulled out my warm(ish) coat this morning, I was momentarily excited when I noticed there was something in the pocket. I dug in and pulled out ... three pistachios. In their shells. Not exactly negotiable tender.

And I've been scratching my head -- why on earth would I have stowed nuts in my coat pockets? Maybe it wasn't me. Maybe it was those damn squirrels.

THE CONTINUING ADVENTURES OF CAPPY NICK 

The recent dustup between Nick Coleman and Jay Rosen was mostly old wine in new skins for longtime Nick watchers. But Rosen made one jaw-dropping revelation near the end of the string of comments:
From Wednesday afternoon to Thursday evening I received 15 abusive e-mails from Coleman. I printed only the first one; the others have much richer material for his "fans" out there.

He said he was contemplating retaliation in his column, and said he would follow up with my university-- the kind of threats that the right wing crazies make when they get going on "leftist academic" this and "you liberals" that.
Coleman has a history of writing nasty e-mails to those who have the temerity to disagree with him. But fifteen? To the same person? In a day and a half? Sheesh.

The comment string also revealed that Mark Gisleson has a gift for irony, as he devoted three comments totalling over 900 words to the position that Coleman should be ignored.

Monday, April 25, 2005

VAGUE SMUGNESS INCREASED 81% LAST YEAR 

Technorati tag:The hybrid car market as a whole has grown by 960% since 2000. Yep, sales of the kind of car that makes local opinion-writer Chuck Dayton "vaguely smug," have vaulted by eighty-one percent just last year.

Sales of Hummers, the car of choice for "scumbags"(according to Dayton), declined sharply.

This free market vote should console Dayton for the low turnout at his Earth day talk last year--which became the subject of a baffling and pathetic Earth Day column in our local paper last Friday. Despite the energetic organizer who offered free cookies, "plastered the announcements all over the small college campus," and finally cajoled six of her friends to attend, the poor guy got only twelve takers.

I'm not a big fan of Hummers (especially when I'm behind one). Although I think hybrids aren't ready for prime time (are you going to scrap the car or pony up for a new battery when it dies?), I'm intrigued by all new technology. But sentiments such as Dayton's make me itch to go out and get me a Hummer:
It rolled into the parking lot, top lights lit, and the lights continued to burn as the tall young driver sauntered toward the student union.

You scumbag, I thought. You are the epitome of the problem. How can you drive this monument to American arrogance, this fuel-devouring war machine? Does it make you feel powerful? Why not volunteer for the Army and drive a real Hummer in Fallujah? Did your Daddy give you this? There's no way you paid for it. Does it help you pick up girls? You probably get gentleman's C's and are just marking time till you can take over Daddy's business. Jerk!
and keep its lights burning forever.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

HAVE YOU RESERVED GEORGERINGOI.COM YET? 

I don't know how you could have missed it, but Nihilist in Golf Pants, despite an ardent campaign, was not elected Pope on Tuesday. Some guy named Benedict was.

The selection of a fairly er, mature, guy for Pope means Nihilist, who is not yet forty, may have another shot at the prize:
We’ve learned a lot and vow to be better prepared for the next conclave (which we hope is many years off). For one thing, we've learned that you really need someone inside the conclave, and to that end Learned Foot has started the campaign to get me my Cardinal’s hat.
Nihilist may be a nihilist, but he isn't a sore loser. Not only is he not whining (all that playing by the rules at Keegan's instills fortitude when it's not instilling liver failure) he is "rededicating [himself] to blogging" with a list of the Top 11 Things I Learned Running For Pope. Like Nihilist, I was particularly impressed by number 10:
The Pope has e-mail: benedictxvi@vatican.va
Who says the Vatican is hide-bound?

But, if you decide to participate in the infinite bathroom wall that is the Internet, you gotta have a strategy to deal with its less savory aspects:
A self-described "domain hoarder" who used to live in Texas says he will be cautious with the pope-related Web address he registered earlier this month.

Rogers Cadenhead, a former Fort Worth newspaper reporter who now lives in St. Augustine, Fla., registered BenedictXVI.com well before the new pope's name was announced.

...

But Cadenhead apparently isn't asking for money. On his personal Web site, Cadenhead wrote that in exchange for the domain name, he would ask the Vatican for "one of those hats," a free stay at the Vatican hotel and "complete absolution, no questions asked, for the third week of March 1987."
Clearly Nihilist must set up his Internet strategy well in advance in order to be truly prepared for the great honor of Popehood. Is he? Is he really? I, for one, am deeply concerned.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

BUT WAIT--DON'T REPORTERS KNOW STUFF? 

Virginia Postrel recently passed on the amazing news of a recent report in the Independent that a vast collection of hitherto unreadable ancient Greek and Roman writings known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri has just been reclaimed, owing to a "breakthrough" in infrared imaging by a team of scientists and classicists at Oxford University. Recovered works by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod, and scores of other classical authors; lost Christian gospels; public documents, letters, and other literary ephemera by and about the regular Joes of antiquity--all of it newly available. And the scope of the recovery truly is vast--perhaps "a 20 per cent increase in the number of great Greek and Roman works in existence."

Fascinating, I thought. For about 15 minutes. Until some follow-up Googling uncovered this, by a writer named Hannibal at Ars Technica:
When a fellow Ars staffer asked me on IRC a few days ago if I'd heard the big news about the recent startling discoveries coming out of Oxyrhynchus, my response was a dismissive "no," with some comments to the effect that if there were any such big finds it would be really strange if I hadn't heard about them, since I'm currently taking a papyrology seminar at University of Chicago with the head of the SBL papyrology group and we're working on texts from Oxyrhynchus. Then he sent me a link to a sensational story in The Independent that's making the rounds right now.

***

Of course I was excited, but the story rang a few alarm bells. First, as I mentioned above, I'm reading some of these texts in class with papyrologist David Martinez, who specializes in Egyptian papyri and would be one of the first people to know if there were any major breakthroughs coming out. Usually, rumors of any really big news in this fairly obscure field circulates through a very small grapevine before bubbling up into the mainstream media. Surely work as earth-shattering as that described in the news article wouldn't be totally unknown to the rest of the papyrology field, and if my professor did know about it then it certainly would've gotten a mention by now.

Another problem with the story is that it implies that the Oxyrhynchus texts are this hidden hoard of texts that we just can't read, and this breakthrough will somehow magically unlock all of them and make them instantaneously readable. Certainly many of these texts are damaged to the point where the letters are hard to make out, but the really big problems arise not so much from deciphering the letter forms as from piecing together numerous small but individually legible fragments into the proper order. And often when fragments are fitted together, there are huge gaps in the text, called lacunae, where text is missing. As the Independent article does indeed mention, the Oxyrhynchus collection is a lot like the world's most vexing jigsaw puzzle. But no amount of spectral analysis is going to solve the problem of how to put the pieces back together.

And then there's the fact that infrared imaging and multispectral analysis of Oxyrhynchus papyri has been going on for over two decades. In the aforementioned seminar's introductory lecture, Martinez described these techniques, so it's not like using IR and multispectral analysis on these texts is a new thing.
Hannibal lists further problems before concluding thus:
At the very best, the Independent's reporters are covering some kind of new imaging breakthrough in an extremely hyperbolic fashion. And at the worst, they're trying to make a major story out of 20-year-old news.
Who's right? Beats me, though Hannibal's criticisms seem awfully compelling.

On a related front ("related" in this context meaning "completely unrelated"), what will future scholars think when they unlock this string of ones and zeros? (Click on that link. Now. I mean it.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

ANOTHER POST ABOUT THE BRAVEST BADDEST TRUTHTELLER OF THEM ALL 

Jay Rosen of PressThink does some Grade A character analysis:
They're on opposite sides of course, but Nick Coleman really reminds me of David Horowitz. Some practices common to both: the instant demonization of others, the personalizing of all disputes ("nor do I remember you defending me...."); the masochism in saying what you intuitively know will get you ripped; the comical self-image as the baddest, bravest truthteller of them all; generating side issues (like the "unauthorized" publication of Coleman's note) in case the main one flags; the use of politics for narcissistic self-display, and the quality of seeming "unhinged" in public debate.

This is in addition to the most obvious parallel: the principle of all-out overstatement, almost all the time, the practice of rarely using a neutral term when a more inflammatory one can be found.

Monday, April 18, 2005

WE LACK PHOTOSHOP SKILLS, UNFORTUNATELY 

Technorati tag:One of the silliest political "kerfuffles" (there! I finally had occasion to use the darling term of political punditry; I'll just sit back and wait for my Instalanche now) currently making waves is the is-local-Senator-Michelle-Bachmann-lurking-in-the-bushes-at-the-gay-rally-or-do-her-shoes-just hurt? meme (I won't even touch the bathroom-imprisonment "scandal").

WELL, you may know my specialty is tempests in teapots, so I was absolutely delighted when I heard that there's also a photo of local columnist and Air America host Nick Coleman's producer lurking behind a ficus plant at the right wing Dan Rather farewell event from March. Such a posting opportunity! Two great goofs in one. I had dreams of joining the ranks of the Serious Blogosphere.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find the photo anywhere (it might help my Googling efforts if there were an accepted spelling of the producer's name--Kuhbi? Cubby?). And now Nick Coleman claims it's fake.

Maybe he's right. But if anyone can find the photo, please forward it to us (our e-mail address is at the upper left) and we'll post it. We want to report so you can decide. Then maybe we'll get into Time magazine or the Economist like the big boys of the Northern Alliance. Or Minnesota Law & Politics. Or at least the Onion.

Please help.

UPDATE: Misanthropic Frat Boy of Nihilist In Golf Pants says "Cubhi's" voice is rarely heard on the show anymore and suspects he's been unfairly muzzled.

J.D. e-mails to reveal that "Kabay" may be guy who got his start on Tom Barnard’s show on KQRS.
Kabay was known for pushing the envelope. Sometimes this worked great, as when he recorded his colloquy with a drug dealer on a Minneapolis street corner. Other times, it was deemed over the top, as when he faked an ambush interview with Brett Favre in a Minneapolis hotel room and asked if the woman in the room was “the lovely Mrs. Favre.” Tom and the gang had to throw ol’ Kabay to the wolves and fire him.
Still no photo.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I'M JUST WORRIED ABOUT THE RISK OF A DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACTION 

Technorati tag:In years past, the Warrior Monk has waged war on the local squirrel population, with limited success. This year he seems to be taking a "la la la I can't hear you!" approach to the problem. I don't know how long he can keep this up, so I'm quite intrigued by Muzzy's daughter's new tactic, the polite cease and desist letter:
Dear Squirrels,

Please keep out of the bird feeder. Remember this note before you climb up the tree. You have your own food. Thank you. You may come in my back yard as long as you don't get into the bird feeder.

Love,

A***

PS. Make sure you can read.
Please let us know if this was successful.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

THE PLANETS HAVE ALIGNED 

Technorati tag: The Hatemongers Quarterly has launched its Second Annual Horrible College-Student Poetry Competition:
Naturally, dear reader, fundamental grammatical flaws are a must. Today’s college students may claim they know everything, but they think a semi-colon is a fancier quotation mark. In addition, the poem should convey an irksome all-knowing tone. After all, these kids are 19 years old, and they understand the ways of the world far better than their elders.

...

Contestants need not be college students. Contestants need not detest college students, but it will probably help.
And, for those of you not up to a poetic exercise, the guys at The Kool-aid Report, those models of anger management, have ordered up a haiku-writing therapy for angry bloggers .

The best one so far is:
Writing lame haiku.
Your criticism is true,
But it beats working.
So, you can see that the standards are quite low.

I'm mulling over the idea of having a First Annual Write A Post For Spitbull So The Warrior Monk Can Continue To Slack Off Contest. What d'ya think?

HER NAME WAS PAULINE 

Technorati tag:Frater Atomizer recommends a Sex Pistols tune for the President to add to his iPod collection.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

BLOGGER ADBLOCK SUCKS IS KINDA DANGEROUS .... 

Technorati tag:Yeah yeah yeah. It's free so I shouldn't complain (but everyone else is!). It's awfully hard to post when the editing template is missing most of its HTMLDummy buttons.

In the unlikely event that you really want to read a full-fledged Eloise post, go here.

UPDATE: Another reason I shouldn't complain: I'm an idiot. The Blogger buttons got whapped by Adblock and it was my own fault. Here's the post I wanted to steal from my other blog:

IN THE SPRING A YOUNG CHILD'S FANCY LIGHTLY TURNS TO THOUGHTS OF BATHING SUITS

Minnesota is blessed with many clothes-showdown days: cold, snowy or rainy bleak weather days that make the youngun's spontaneously crave the bare-skin feeling of hot weather clothing while their parents are still reaching for the mittens. Yesterday was one (today is too), but M.A.W.B.er St. Kate wisely backed down and let her son wear shorts.

In the sleep-deprived days after my youngest was born, I was not so wise. One morning I had a knock-down drag-out screaming and crying fight with the seven year old who insisted on wearing a dress to day care despite the sub-zero temperatures of January in Minnesota. A Minnesota day care which, in the interests of raising hardy children (and keeping its staff sane), sends the children outside to play twice a day no matter what the weather (I think they might make an exception for lightning storms). I demanded she wear the pants/turtleneck and sweater combo I had picked out. Not only appropriate to the weather, but tasteful to boot. As the volume increased, she grudgingly consented to wear pants underneath her dress, but that was her final offer.

My only excuse is that I only had two or maybe three awake and functioning synapses that morning. I kept clinging dully to some stupid child care principal I had read in some inane magazine about how to raise kids. Must. Be. Consistent. It took at least twenty minutes for the thought that this was a dumb fight to penetrate my fog and another ten to figure out a face-saving way to back down.

I promised myself that day never to fight about clothing again. (Ed. Hah! Just wait until she's a teenager ...) And I've kept my promise. My favorite outfit so far is the one she donned for a family expedition to shop for a couch: Raggedy pink tutu worn over a jumper (sewn by my grandmother who couldn't see very well so the seams were all akilter), rubber duck boots and an Easter rabbit ears headband.

Now that's fashionable.


Monday, April 11, 2005

WHAT DID YOU EAT FOR LUNCH TODAY? 

Raffi Melkonian blogs a lot about food over at Crescat Sententia. Despite his "pronounced libertarian tendencies," he's all for the efforts to teach kids about food--really good food--in school.

I learned about food in my public high school. I actually was taught to make eclairs in home economics class (and, more usefully, soup). But the cafeteria fare was the usual chipped beef and jello crud.

Perhaps he should consider moving to Italy (from a 1999 NYT article by Alessandra Stanley that should be, but is not, widely available and quoted):
THE first parents meeting of the year at my child's Italian public school started off with a warning. We all hunched anxiously over tiny first-grade desks as the teacher rose from her chair and stated solemnly, "I have bad news."

Teachers' strike, typhoid and no textbooks were some of the potential crises that rushed through my head. But what the teacher was worried about drew a gasp of horror from the other parents.

"Your children are not eating," she said sternly. "Some of them don't even touch their second course."

Everybody knows Italians are obsessed with food. My mother is Italian, I spent many childhood summers in Rome and Tuscany, so I was well acquainted, I thought, with the importance of cooking pasta al dente, the moral imperative to throw out day-old mozzarella, and never to go swimming less than two hours after lunch.

But even I was unprepared for how a food-centric nation handles education. When my daughter started kindergarten last year, I was surprised to find a huge chart posted on the door, marked with what appeared to be grades. On closer inspection, the chart turned out to be a scorecard of the day's lunch achievements.

Every day, next to each child's name, the teacher marked down what she ate, and how well.

EMMA: Primo (first course): Pasta con pomodoro (pasta with tomato sauce). Tutto. Ottimo. (Ate all. Excellent.)

Secondo (second course): Scaloppine di Vitello. (veal scallops) Meta. Molto bene.(Half. Very good.)

Contorno (side dish): Patate bollite e fagiolini (boiled potato and beans.) Poco. Bene. (A little. Good.)

Dolce (dessert): Pera cotta (stewed pear). Niente. Maggiore impegno. (None. Needs work.)
Fraud and corruption scams are to Italian newspapers what sex is to British tabloids. Almost every day, somewhere in Italy there is a scandal over rigged lotteries, sports "doping," or ingenious forms of municipal graft. But the one kind of scandal guaranteed to make the front pages has the word "mensa" in it. They are not referring to the high I.Q. club. Mensa, in Italian, means school cafeteria, and any story that suggests that children are being cheated of their culinary due unleashes mass hysteria.

Last month, 13 people, many of them high-ranking city administrators, were arrested in Milan after a local catering company was found to be providing substandard food to city-run hospitals and schools.

After the Milan story broke, parents who had not once mentioned the war in Kosovo gathered in angry groups outside our school, militantly ready to storm the school kitchen.

"My son brought home an apple that I swear was bruised," one mother said urgently. "How do we know they are not buying second-rate produce and pocketing the profits?"

The school held an emergency meeting to address those concerns. I have yet to talk to another mother about reading skills or after-school programs. We do occasionally gather over espresso at the cafe next to the school to debate the school cook's ability to produce a satisfying "suppli di riso."

Italy is not a society preoccupied with learning disabilities, ritalin and attention deficit disorder. Here, ADD stands only for appetite deficit disorder.

Romans have a healthy contempt for all public officials, but no city administrator is more pilloried than Fiorella Farinelli, the supervisor of Rome's public schools (though Walter Tocci, vice-mayor in charge of traffic, is a close second). Last year, Mrs. Farinelli decreed a meatless day in honor of Linda McCartney, the wife of the former Beatle Paul McCartney; she was a vegetarian and animal rights activist who had just died of cancer. The indignation from parents was so fevered I wrote an article about it.

When I interviewed Mrs. Farinelli, she explained that this was nothing. Once, when she tried to introduce perch to school menus, she was questioned in Parliament.

"Mothers in Rome want their children to eat pasta with meat sauce, meat and french fries, and ice cream," she said wearily.

"Only that will make them feel certain their children are eating."

So far, I have been lucky enough never to get an urgent summons from the school about a broken bone or high fever.

B UT once, early on, I was on assignment in Venice when my husband got a panicked call from Emma's kindergarten teacher, asking him to come over right away. His Italian wasn't very fluent, so as he raced over, he called me on my cell phone to urge me to catch an earlier flight home. I did. The emergency was, of course, food-related. Emma, who at the time still didn't speak Italian, wept when the cafeteria lady sprinkled parmigiano on her pasta and she refused to eat it.

It should go without saying that the school day begins with "merenda," the Italian word for snack, except that it is not considered optional. Mothers are expected to provide their children every morning with a fresh slice of pizza bianca to tide them over until lunch.

In the afternoon, the kindergarten teacher distributes apples and slices of bread and nutella, a chocolate and hazelnut spread. (Child obesity rates in Italy are increasing, but they are lower than in the United States, 22.5 percent vs. 25 to 27 percent.)

After 18 months, I have assimilated. When I get home from work, I never ask my child what she did in school. Like every other Italian parent, I remove the soiled cloth napkin from her book bag and ask, "What did you eat for lunch today?"
I can guess what my kids' grades would be. The four year old would get "Meta. Molto bene." The seven year old? "Niente. Maggiore impegno."

Thursday, April 07, 2005

ONE STEP FORWARD AND AT LEAST THREE BACK 

Sandy of the M.A.W.B. Squad was interviewed for an article in Minnesota Women's Press about gal blogs. Sadly, the piece (which cleverly omitted mention of, or didn't notice, the righty bent of the Squad) is littered with femspeak crap such as:
[Blogging has] given me a chance to exercise my voice and take that back into the real world and give me more confidence.
Yeah. I'm just thrilled to "exercise my voice." Why do so many articles about women make them (us) look like imbeciles in need of serious therapy?

A graduate professor at the University of Minnesota comments on the fact that male-written blogs are mentioned more often in the media than female blogs:
I think that gets at another kind of inequity in terms of value. Valuing some of these blogs that are more political, more business-oriented, and privileging them over other kinds of blogs that may not be as edgy. A privileging of socially constructed ‘male issues’ over ‘women’s issues[.]'
I didn't know women's issues were ignored because they're so non-edgy. But if this media mention, full of passive voice and "privileging" jargon is the price of being noticed, I'd rather be ignored.

Sheesh.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

MITCH: TIME TO FLY SOUTH? 

This just in, courtesy of our Florida correspondent:
People who feel threatened on the street, in a bar, at a baseball game - or anywhere they have a legal right to be - could "meet force with force" to defend themselves without fear prosecution or liability under a bill the House passed overwhelmingly Tuesday.

The measure (SB 436) passed 94-20. It had already passed the Senate and now heads to Gov. Jeb Bush, who said Tuesday that he will sign it. It was the top priority of the National Rifle Association in Florida this year.

It essentially extends a right Floridians already have in their home or car, saying that there's no need to retreat before fighting back. Generally people attacked in their homes don't have to back off. If they're attacked in the street, though, they're supposed to do what they can to avoid escalating the situation, and can only use deadly force after they've tried to retreat.

Monday, April 04, 2005

I SUGGEST STRONGER THERAPY: EGG SOME CATS 

Laura of Apartment 11D predicts the future of blogs:

Bloggers, at least the political ones, need triumphs to keep up their momentum. There's no money or glory in blogging, so bloggers must be fueled by something else. Like the gotcha moments when they snag major media in errors or bias.

Some have hypothesized that in the future blogging will be eaten up by big media, interest groups, or politicians. Professionals will take the place of the amateur.

I'm starting to see another fate for the blogosphere. It's one where the personal blogs triumph. Those that write witty and small things about their cats and yoga classes and kids.

I hate cats but I must admit I see a future for commentary such as this:
Today finds everyone in an improved mood around here. It’s difficult to feel subdued on a beautiful spring day. With temperatures in the 50’s, the boys and I were talking about what outdoor projects we could accomplish today. The Senator asked if we could spread peanut butter on The Governor’s hair, dip him in birdseed, and put him out on the deck.

It was a serious request. I am raising future asylum inmates.

I think, instead, we will go out and lay in the grass and watch clouds. This will be followed by first annual Easter Egg Massacre in which we take all the decorated eggs out to the pasture and smash them against trees. A little post-Easter therapy for me...destructive fun for the boys. Just the sort of thing the Mother of the Year judges look for in a candidate. 2005 should be a cinch.
If not Mother of the Year, how about Blog of the Year?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

LEAVING THE VIVID AIR SIGNED WITH HIS HONOR 

I was vainly attempting to bring some order to our home library this afternoon when I stumbled over this poem by Stephen Spender in a poetry anthology. It seems in tune with the day's news. (An uncharitable reader might say that the poem reveals more about about Spender than it does about the "truly great," to which one might uncharitably respond that few of us approach even Spender's relation to greatness, so shut yer yap):
I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul's history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

What is precious is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog the flowering of the spirit.

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
See how these names are feted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life
Who wore at their hearts the fire's center.
Born of the sun they traveled a short while towards the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honor.