September 29, 2007

Time and space

When I was a sophmore undergraduate a Nobel Prize winning physicist (Murray Gell-Mann, who named the quark based on Joyce's Finnigan's Wake) gave a talk at our little school on Grand Avenue. I asked him what time was. The look on his face was priceless, kind of why aren't I back in my office doing useful work?

A different physicist said, Time is so that everything doesn't happen at once, and space is so that it doesn't happen to me. The sitrep is that I am suffering from a lack of time and space. Teaching two classes, one for the first time, supervising students, young kids at home, problems with the train, editing a journal, writing a book, planning for a trip.

What can I do to help you ask? I need new music to load into my mp3 player for the trip. Please send ideas!


My parents gave the kids some stuffed animals including a wombat with an Australian flag sewn into his left flank who has become very popular around the house. So I read a little about wombats. Mr. Wombat likes to have fun.

Wombats are nocturnal marsupials who live in tunnels. They live on a diet of grasses, sedges, herbs, bark and roots. They are preyed on by the Tasmanian Devil. Wombats have slow metabolisms and take about 14 days to complete digestion, but they are strong and fast when they need to be. Their defense is to crush their enemy against the roof of the tunnel until it has ceased breathing. In addition they have a tough hide and their rear end is mainly made of cartilage, making them difficult to bite from behind. It has been said that a predator biting into a wombat's butt would find it 'comparable to the business end of a toilet brush.'

There is a hip hop group in New Zealand called Combat Wombat.

The King of Seasons

Autumn is the King of Seasons. The colors, the harvest moon. Cool enough so you can feel fresh and get some work done outside. Cool enough give mammals the edge over the insects. Time to work on your garden. Here are my gardening tips:

1. This is the perfect time to plant bulbs that will come up in the spring. They will be like money in the bank through the long dark cold winter. Plant small bulbs early in the fall, and large bulbs, like tulips, can be planted later.

2. Now is the time to trim fruit trees for fruits with pits-- plums, cherries. After the fruit but before the leaves have dropped.

3. If the Autumn is dry then be sure to water plants that are green through the winter, like rhododendrons and spruces.

September 16, 2007


I spend my days among Swedes and Danes and they provide endless entertainment with their variations on English. There are some words that have rhythms that are practically impossible for Scandinavians. Hippopotamus. They would like to pronounce it as if it were a Greek philosopher, hippopo-TAM-oos. Catastrophe. Here the problem is a similar word in their own language that is pronounced kata-STROPHE.

Another confoundation is that Swedes don't make a distinction between 'v' and 'w'. To them, a 'w' is a noble 'v', important enough to merit being written twice. An example is the 'Wiking Cafe'.

There are some word pairs that they have a hard time distinguishing.

schmoozing v. smooching
beer v. bear
sue v. zoo

This can create unnecessary confusion if for example you tell your wife that you were shmoozing with a bear at the zoo.

September 05, 2007

Four things.

1. I have made the dangerous discovery that it is almost as much fun not to post as to post.

2. There is a three-year-old in the house and he has not made a discovery but simply knows what every three-year-old knows: no matter what you are doing, it is more fun with shrieks or at least motor sounds.

3. We went to Odense Denmark last weekend. Saw H. C. Andersen's house and went to the train museum and a robot exhibition. In the middle of town they have a pillar that displays the number of bycicles that have passed that day. We walked past it on a Saturday morning at 11.00 and 5,600 bicycles had already passed, Danes are nuts about biking. There was a group of people on the street handing out bunches of organic carrots to publicize the health magazine some public agency was giving away. Our three year old was terribly thrilled because his greatest dream in life is to be a rabbit.

4. Andersen has written cool stories like The Snow Queen, see also Andersen's work on Project Gutenberg.

Web Counter
Web Site Counter

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]