Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Before E, Except...

Yesterday Toque McToque sent me this really clever quote:

Being a linguist, I immediately thought to myself, “Some of those words might be from German or French, so that’s why they don’t follow the spelling rule.” So, for my readers’ edification, I am including the etymology of all these “weird” words:

Feisty: from a Middle English word for breaking wind, which then referred to a small dog – not sure that makes a lot of sense, but whatever

Heist: alternate pronunciation of hoist, which is from Middle English “to lift”

Weird: a Middle English word meaning “fate,” from an Old English root meaning “to turn”

Beige: French, of uncertain origin, meaning the color of undyed fabric

Foreign: Middle English, from a Latin word (foras) meaning “outside,” via Old French

Neighbor:  From Old English neah “near” gebur “dweller”

It appears, with the exception of beige and foreign, that these are all native English words, so the “I before e” is not a strict English spelling rule. Perhaps the closest thing to a rule could be that if it rhymes with “hey,” then e is before i, but if it rhymes with “hee,” then i is before e. Please let me know of exceptions to this rule in the comments.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Work Is Work

Today my office mate Light Bright sighed, “This is so much work!” I asked her what was so much work, and she said, “All this work!” I said, “So let me get this straight – you’re saying work is work?” How profound is that? I do know people (looking at you, Richard Bonomo) who claim to love their jobs, but for most of us, work IS work. We wouldn’t come every day unless we were getting paid for it. If you are one of those people who would do what you do even if you weren’t getting paid, we all envy you and would like to know, how can we get the same deal?

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Email Oops

Yesterday I sent Toque McToque an email and didn’t think much of it when she didn’t reply right away, since Mondays are busy days. I was a little surprised that I still hadn’t heard from her today, but since the email said nothing more important than “Did you have a good weekend?” it wasn’t a big deal or anything. Then I noticed in my Sent mailbox that I had sent an email to a faculty member who is giving a presentation for us, and I was puzzled. “Why would I have asked him how his weekend was?” I thought, then I realized oh no, that was my email to Toque! I had started typing McToque into the address line and it automatically filled in as always, but because this guy’s name was, let’s say, McTope, his filled in first. Fortunately he probably realized the email was meant for someone else, and “Did you have a good weekend?” is friendly but harmless, not like some of the things Toque and I have discussed over email, as my regular readers well know. So I am only a little embarrassed.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Dragon Bathroom Toilet Issues

Happy Monday! I hope that my readers had a good weekend. Friday night I went to a fish fry with a bunch of people, including Travalon, Cecil Markovich, and Richard Bonomo, and we had to wait for an hour and a half to get our food. It was good, but that’s quite a wait. Saturday Travalon and I went to Columbus to check out a brew pub called Hydro Street. It was a beautiful, sunny day for a drive, but the sun went behind the clouds while we were strolling through Columbus’s cute downtown. The beer at Hydro Street was really good, and our very young bartender said she had brewed the beer I chose herself. Then Travalon and I picked up dinner at New Orleans Takeout and brought it to Rich’s house, where Travalon watched the Marquette basketball game with Luxuli’s husband while Rich and Kathbert worked on fixing the toilet in the Dragon Bathroom, which had a leak. Last I heard that leak was fixed, but they discovered another one that will have to be fixed. They were working on it last night too, so the status of the toilet may be Fixed by now. Otherwise, if you go to Rich’s house, you will have to use the Teak Bathroom.

Famous Hat

Friday, March 22, 2013

Torture at Work (i.e., Self-Evaluation)

It’s that time again – time for annual reviews at work. My current boss asks us to fill out a self-evaluation in preparation for this torture, which is at least an improvement over my former boss, who never gave me a chance to say anything on my own behalf. However, I got a little discouraged looking at last year’s form and realizing I didn’t have a lot to say for myself this year. We are judged on things I am very bad at, like organizational skills, interpersonal communication, and initiative. How many ways can I think of to say the same thing in a diplomatic way: “I suck at this particular skill, and I know it, but I’m trying to improve”? Last year I went to a workshop on communication skills, but this year I can’t say anything better than “I’m trying.” And who ever heard of a workshop on improving initiative? If you know of one, let me know, and I’ll put it in my self-improvement plan.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Weighty Matter

Here is a question for my readers: do women overreact? I heard about a woman whose husband told her she had better lose all the baby weight quickly, which annoyed her, but he really made her mad one day when he told her she had better do sit-ups now so that her muscles would “remember” to be in shape after the baby. She told him she was very angry that he would say such a thing, and he got angry with her for overreacting. Was she overreacting? I think she had a perfect right to be angry, it seems like the man is being shallow, and besides, he doesn’t have to put up with baby weight so he has no right to talk. Do we women overreact about weight? Should men say anything about our weight? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Some Stuff is Here to Stay

There has been a sign on our work refrigerator for over a week now announcing that it would be cleaned out at 2:00 today, and anything left in it would be thrown away. The last time this happened, a particular faculty member claimed he had no knowledge the cleaning would happen, so this morning I warned him about it. I was suspicious that the cleaners were targeting his stuff, including some smoked whole fish that have sat in the fridge for months, although I didn’t tell him this. His response was to go to the refrigerator and add the words “unlabeled” to the sign so that his labeled stuff would be spared. I didn’t think this ploy would work, and when Light Bright and I went to do the mail around 3:00, I looked in the fridge, and sure enough, all the faculty member’s stuff was gone. We laughed so hard! Light Bright said maybe I should title this blog post “God Complex Smackdown.” However, when we returned from our mail run, I looked in the fridge again, and his stuff was back, though I noticed the smoked fish are now hidden under some slices of cheese. He must have heeded my warning, after all. No word on whether he is ever actually going to eat the fish.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happy St. Joseph Day

Today is St. Joseph’s Day, when all of us (who know about it) are a little bit Italian, as long as we wear red. Speaking of Italians, they are claiming the new pope because he is ethnically Italian. Of course Latin America claims him too, and both the Jesuits and the Franciscans are ecstatic. I would add that the French should be flattered, because “Francesco” literally means French. But getting back to St. Joseph, it has always annoyed me the way people bury statues of him upside down to sell their houses. Doesn’t that seem just a little disrespectful? How would they like it if people buried photos of them upside down and demanded they help with real estate deals?

On a similar religious theme, Toque McToque sent me a story about a guy who saw Jesus in the paint spattered on a dropcloth. Why are people always seeing Jesus in random inanimate objects? She also sent me this example of someone seeing something (someone) else in a painting of Jesus:

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day, One Day Late

Hopefully you had a great St. Patrick’s Day. I started mine by going to Mass, of course, since it was not only Sunday but also the anniversary of my baptism. Unfortunately Travalon had to work yesterday, so he and I went out Saturday night to Brocach for a pint and then to the Fountain for live jazz. Yesterday Richard Bonomo and I went to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade around the Square, but it was very cold, and someone threw a piece of candy at Rich so hard that it almost knocked him out. Had it hit him just an inch lower, he would have lost an eye! I said, “This is why I wear sunglasses to the parade.” They were flinging beads so hard that the strands would break upon hitting the ground. Who knew the parade could be so dangerous? Then we had a birthday party for Luxuli and her husband; Rich made chicken with creamy parmesan sauce, Kathbert made a delicious angel food cake, and I gave the birthday boy a left-handed notebook… and Luxuli a right-handed notebook of her own so she wouldn’t use his. Today is my brother’s birthday, so Happy Birthday to you, Bro!

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring Can Start Any Time

It’s the Ides of March, and there is still snow on the ground. Last year at this time it felt like summer; I would be satisfied if it were just starting to feel like spring. There is snow in the forecast next Thursday! Does it never end? I realize next Thursday is the first official day of spring, but usually there isn’t snow on the ground during the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade around the Square. This year I don’t see how we can avoid it. Oh winter, why don’t you go away and let spring have a chance?

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis Rumors

There are already rumors swirling around about the new pope. Here are a couple of amusing ones:

  • This morning he allegedly snuck out of the Vatican without the Swiss Guard knowing.
  • When the cardinals toasted the new pope at the dinner after his election, he is rumored to have replied, “And may the Lord forgive you for what you have done!”

I kind of hope both these rumors are true.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam!

As you probably know by now, we have a new pope and he is from Argentina. I was excited to hear he took the name Francis I, after my very favorite saint, Francis of Assisi. St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and nature, so maybe this pope will be very concerned with the environment. St. Francis was also a man who believed in living simply and giving to the poor, and from what I’ve heard about the new pope, he is similar. He refused to use a chauffeur to get around Buenos Aires and would just take the bus, and he cooked his own meals. He recently visited people in the slums of Buenos Aires. He is also the first Jesuit pope, besides being the first from the Americas. Habemus papam!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Elevator Art

At work we had a dingy old elevator for the staff to use, and a few weeks ago they shut it down completely. When it was working again, it had wood paneling on the sides. “Swanky!” we all said. I don’t remember it shutting down recently, so maybe they did all the work over the weekend. All I know is that on Monday when the doors to the elevator opened, I was greeted by the sight of a backlit picture of cosmos flowers, many times larger than life. I found it very cheerful, and when my office mate Light Bright saw it, she said, “Holy cow!” But now we hear that not everyone is as fond of the change as we are. Some people have said it is overwhelmingly cheerful or just too big. Apparently they don’t enjoy seeing flowers as large as people. Who needs elevator music to complain about when we have elevator art for people to complain about?

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Just Hanging Out

I did go to Speakeasy Science at the Space Place on Friday night, joined by Luxuli and her husband. It was a really fun time: I ate comets (scoops of ice cream with toppings mixed in), smelled space (it smells like ammonia and acetone), made a Rube Goldberg creation to ring a bell, got a temporary tattoo of Saturn and some stars, and observed Jupiter and three of its moons, among other things. It was hands-on science for adults, including one adult beverage. What a great event!

Saturday I met Travalon at the Macha Tea House, and we shared two kinds of tea before he had to leave to watch the high school basketball tournament and I went to meet Tiffy. She and I went to a Japanese restaurant for lunch, then we went to Macha Tea House and hung out there. It is such a cool place: it really is a house where they serve tea. I highly recommend their macha lattes. Then she, Richard Bonomo, and I met Catzooks and her guy at an Indian restaurant, and then we all met Travalon at Le Tigre Lounge, one of my favorite haunts as my regular readers know. Catzook’s guy was really taken with the place and even went down into the basement, where he found a sign that he had put on a coworker’s desk and an unusual stairwell with tiny steps. Sunday Tiffy and I continued our streak of hanging out and talking with Luxuli and her husband, after Sunday brunch. So it was a really fun weekend of just hanging out.

Famous Hat

Friday, March 8, 2013

Crying Different Types of Tears

A few nights ago I had a dream where I was really depressed but then decided to feel ecstatically happy – and it worked! I went to crying from sadness to crying for joy. Today I had a bad day at work and was ready to cry. When I told Light Bright about my dream, she asked me what had made me so happy in it, and I said sacred music. It was so moving that I was weeping over its beauty. She said, “Would that work in real life?” so I put on my Monteverdi station on Pandora, and it does seem to be working. Nothing like choral polyphony to make a person feel better about life. Right now they are playing Schuetz.

Famous Hat

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fake Smile, Real Improvement

They say that if you are feeling bad and make yourself smile, you will feel better. I was always a bit dubious about this claim, but today my office mate Light Bright, who is having a bad day, said, “I plastered a fake smile on my face, and now I feel better!” We are going out for a drink after work because it has been one of those days for her. It was one of those days for me yesterday, but I got to see Travalon last night so that made everything better. We saw the movie about FDR, which was really good. It turned out that the huge project I was working on was not nearly as huge as I’d originally thought, so today I got the project done. What a relief! Poor Light Bright has been slammed with work today, so she is looking forward to that drink tonight. Actually, she wanted to leave right when we were talking about it, but obviously we couldn’t leave work to have a drink, so she just plastered that fake smile on her face… and felt better!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pictures of New Orleans

Ok, I lied. The snow wasn't that bad, so I went to Adoration and now am at Rich's house, putting my photos on my blog. First, here is a photo of the church where Travalon and I went to Mass, St. Louis Cathedral, and some interior shots:

Copy of a Bible owned by St. Louis.

Here is a shot showing the typical architecture in the French Quarter:

Here is a shot of the harbor with three boats: from left to right, a steamboat, the free ferry to Algiers on the other side of the river, and a cruise ship.

Here is a house in the Garden District with lights in Mardi Gras colors and beads in the trees:

Flowers were blooming down there while you had to contend with snow up here:

Here are some shots from the plantation we visited, Oak Alley:

Slave quarters. Each small house had two families living in it.

The Oak Alley

The plantation house

The 300-year-old oak trees had amazing root systems.

Because 10 MPH would just be way too fast.

Here are some shots of our swamp tour:





People do stay in this shack

Spanish moss on a tree

Our guide found this piece of wood like this, except for the teeth he added

Famous Hat meets Alligator

Anyone know what this big bug is?

Here are some photos from our steamboat cruise:

Jackson Brewery complex, now shops and restaurants

A very affirming building.

Plantation house on the site of the Battle of New Orleans

Here are some photos from Kiln, Mississippi, which is Brett Favre's hometown. They are at the Broke Spoke, the bar owned by his brother.

This one's for Hardingfele.

Here are some shots from our trip to Grand Isle:

Houses on stilts.

Random Marian shrine

Really cool boat

And back to New Orleans for some more photos:

A steamboat

This sign explains everything.

Flooded streets in the French Quarter after a storm.

What they think of the one way signs in the French Quarter

Man with giant saxophone at Maison.

A spotted cat at The Spotted Cat

And finally, if the pictures aren't enough to convince you to go to New Orleans, here is a little taste of the jazz at The Spotted Cat:

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Speakeasy Science

I was hoping to go to Richard Bonomo’s house after Adoration tonight to upload my New Orleans photos, but it is snowing so hard that it looks like I will have to go with Plan B for blogging today. Which is this: begging for someone to go with me to the event at the Space Place this Friday evening. Ever wonder what space smells like or comets taste like? Ever desired a temporary tattoo with a space theme? Look no further than the Space Place! Here is the description of their event “Speakeasy Science”:

This adults-only event will feature edible comets, the smell of space, laser penmanship, an astronomical tattoo parlor and other activities designed exclusively for the 21 and older crowd.

Your entry fee of $10 even buys you one adult drink! If you are interested, let me know. 

Famous Hat

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Best Burger Ever

Thought for the day: my office mate Light Bright and I must be handymen because we sure work with some tools.

Yesterday I had the best burger ever. It was at the Fountain on State Street, and it was the most perfectly done medium rare I have ever eaten. It was the Black and Bleu burger with Cajun spices and blue cheese – mm! (Note to my vegetarian readers: all their burgers are available in vegetarian options as well.) Travalon and I were there listening to live jazz, and there were a lot of tenor saxophones this time, and only one trombone. (The trombone is my favorite instrument since I saw an awesome trombonist at Preservation Hall.) There was one guy playing a small saxophone, prompting the jam session leader to call it the “baby sax” and to say, “It’s not the size of your sax…” There was even a guy playing the flugelhorn.  There were some really great bass players there too. It was not quite like being back in New Orleans, but it was still a lot of fun. The bartender there even remembered that we had gone to New Orleans! What a friendly place. 

Famous Hat

Friday, March 1, 2013

Back to Winter

I am back from New Orleans. I had to come to work because of one lousy meeting today, and there was a message on my answering machine yesterday saying the meeting had been moved to 7:30 am in a room where no coffee is allowed. (I start work at 8:00.) So I had to get up extra early for my first day back at work after a week of sleeping in, and then it was snowing out. Just to underline the fact that I was back in the winter weather, I slipped and fell on the ice while walking to the bus stop. At least I didn't hurt myself, and nobody saw me (that I know of). So that was my welcome back to reality.

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