June 27, 2005

poem by cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less
than your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

A word a day

The word of the day from A.Word.A.Day is:

caliginous (kuh-LIJ-uh-nuhs) adjective
Dark, gloomy, obscure, misty.

June 26, 2005

Let America be America

Poem by Langston Hughes-- click on comments.

June 23, 2005

Hobo spiders bum a ride

Every day I take the train to work over a bridge across the sound between Sweden and Denmark. Its not completely bridge though. A third of the distance is a normal high suspension bridge. A third of the distance is a tunnel. The 5 kilometers in between are spanned by an island made from sand scooped from the seabottom. The new island is next to an existing island named saltholm and has been named pepparholm. Biologists have been studying the island to record how it is colonized by new species. Already after 3 years there are an amazing variety of flowers and grasses, and even a few bushes. The seeds are brought to the island by wind, sea currents or birds (vehicles are not allowed to stop on the island). All this is very nice, but today I read that they have found a colony of two inch long poisonous spiders on the island that are native to the Pacific Northwest and unknown in Sweden. How did the Hobo spiders (Tegenaria agrestis) get there? Apparently they were carried by the wind from Denmark, where they were first seen two years ago. How did they get to Denmark?? I really don't know.

Thought for the day

Real friends are those who, when you've made a fool of yourself, don't feel that you've done a permanent job.

--Erwin T. Randall

(From the Hazalden site.)

June 22, 2005

Take a step back

My body is sending me a collection of warning signs that it is time to ease off work a little bit. The most annoying is the muscle tick under my left eye, but pains in my right knee and left hip are also making their presence felt. (One good thing is that since going on the south beach diet, my stomach is a reliable friend and I don't get many headaches at all.) Good thing my summer vacation starts Friday this week. Looking forward to time in the sun, playing with the kids, fixing the house a little, motoring around and fishing. Got to get rid of the cumulative stress of the last half year-- taught two courses for the first time, meetings, students, more meetings, interruptions, phone calls, deadlines, applications, papers submitted and papers to review, conferences....

June 20, 2005

The Scandinavian model

I was talking with a guy I know a couple of weeks ago, and asked him about pensions. This guy is in his late 50s. I have some questions about my strategy and so on. Can I trust the government and private systems I pay into every month? The models I have seen say that pension funds are really bad investments for people my age-- depending on the model the rate of return is zero, at best. Maybe I'd be better off buying gold ingots and burying them under the floorboards. This guy said that in the Scandinavian system, everyone sinks or swims together, so if the system does go bankrupt at least I will not be hungry and homeless alone.

June 13, 2005

Drive time word mavenry

I was listening to the morning program on Swedish State Radio channel 2 this morning where they were playing 'Danish word of the day.' The idea is that they read some Danish word and then people (Swedes!) call in and try to guess what it means. Today's word was 'stikkelsbaerben' and people were guessing everything possible, from a Daddy long legs spider to razor stubble. The correct meaning is 'hairy legs' and the Danes at work told me that the literal translation is 'gooseberry legs'. You wouldn't want to be caught at the beach with those now would you?

June 08, 2005

Red Planet Flyby

The following is from Jim and Marcia Partridge, via my father. Thanks!!

In case you haven't seen this already, I thought you might be interested. The Red Planet is about to be spectacular! This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the Last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again. The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August it will rise in the east at 10p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m. By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30a.m. That's pretty convenient to see something that no human being has seen in recorded history.. So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month. Share this with your children and grandchildren. NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN !!

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