Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Up against the sky!"

The sky was above Sinjuin* Bautista, California.

Taken on my afternoon walk along the canyon road

Taken from our hosts' kitchen sink this morning
* If "Sinjin" is the way "St. John" is rendered (in English) when used as a name, then "Sinjuin" [SIN-win] for "San Juan"?
Sinjin is actually an attempt to represent phonetically the now rare name "St. John." As a given-name, "St. John" is sometimes pronounced as [SIN-jin] or [SIN-jun] in the UK. I presume this to be a relic of Norman-French origin (see also Sinclair for St. Claire). [Behind the Name]
    This came up because our Google Navigator directed us to "turn right onto Sinjin Canyon Road"—in the same voice that the Google droid will read a book aloud to you, highlighting each sentence visually as it proceeds....


Photo made with Droid on Feb. 21
In the late seventeenth century, or so I'm told by a family genealogist, the first "Dean" from whom my father descended lived for a time in Jamaica, New York.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunlight on a blossom

...makes me happy, as John Denver more or less said1.

Original photograph
(taken on January 29 with Nikon D60, hand-held)

Poster edges filter effect (Photoshop)

Dry brush

Cutout (a Salvador Dali effect?)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Another response to Valentine's Day's sense of fire & life?

Henry Suso (1300-1366)
When I facetiously referred to self-flagellation in "Morris & Ken have made up" (January 27), I identified the scourge as a possible instrument of my self-mortification for offenses committed.
    I had, of course, heard of more serious methods, such as Flannery O'Connor's character Enoch Emery's wrapping barbed wire around his chest (Wise Blood, 1952). I hadn't, however, heard of the following "irrational extreme to which a psychopathic individual may go in the line of bodily austerity," as William James mildly put it in The Varieties of Religious Experience: Being the Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion Delivered at Edinburgh in 1901, 1902. James quotes "the sincere Suso's account of his own self-tortures. [Henry] Suso, you will remember, was one of the fourteenth century German mystics; his autobiography, written in the third person, is a classic religious document" [p. 281 of the Library of America edition of William James: Writings 1902-1910]:
He was in his youth of a temperament full of fire and life; and when this began to make itself felt, it was very grievous to him; and he sought by many devices how he might bring his body into subjection. He wore for a long time a hair shirt and an iron chain, until the blood ran from him, so that he was obliged to leave them off. He secretly caused an undergarment to be made for him; and in the undergarment he had strips of leather fixed, into which a hundred and fifty brass nails, pointed and filed sharp, were driven, and the points of the nails were always turned towards the flesh. He had this garment made very tight, and so arranged as to go round him and fasten in front, in order that it might fit the closer to his body, and the pointed nails might be driven into his flesh; and it was high enough to reach upwards to his navel. In this he used to sleep at night....[enough, don't you think?]
    James classes this account "as a more concrete example of heads 4 and 5," previously described [p. 272] in the following way:
4. Again, ascetic mortifications and torments may be due to pessimistic feelings about the self, combined with theological beliefs concerning expiation. The devotee may feel that he is buying himself free, or escaping worse sufferings hereafter, by doing penance now.
    5. In psychopathic persons, mortifications may be entered on irrationally, by a sort of obsession or fixed idea which comes as a challenge and must be worked off, because only thus does the subject get his interior consciousness feeling right again.
    Oh, to feel right again!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Motomynd: Quick post-Valentine's Day communiqué

Ahh, Valentine's Day...the time for love and romance!
  • The busiest week of the year for private investigators.
  • February 15 is the most popular day for people to start an affair, because they were disappointed with February 14.
  • There is a website devoted exclusively to married people wanting to have affairs. It employs 120 people and does a billion $$$ of business a year.
    There is something thought-provoking and tragic in all this....
Note from Moristotle: Could this be the site Motomynd's third bulleted item refers to:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Brilliant parody

To the Editor of the Durham Herald-Tribune: Thanks for printing James R. Hardy's entertaining letter on February 11 ("First presume everyone who's convicted is guilty"1). Bravo for your astute recognition of his brilliant parody of a frantic religious lunatic. He got the tone just right, and the ignorant self-righteousness. Bravo to Mr. Hardy, too. Of course. [Published on February 152]
  1. Mr. Hardy's brilliant parody of a frantic religious lunatic:
    First presume everyone who’s convicted is guilty
    In Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21:12 and Leviticus 24:17, God commands murderers of his creatures to be put to death.
        State Democrat legislators enacted a very bad law, the so-called Racial Justice Act. The Act allows convicted murderers to reverse their death sentence to life in prison. Republican legislators voted to repeal the act, but Gov. Perdue vetoed the repeal.
        Perdue and Democrats have sinned against God by disobeying his command to put murderers to death. When sinners die, God sentences them to hell, where they remain forever; there is no escape.
        Democrats and Perdue have served Satan, embraced and become a party to the sin and evil of murder.
        I ask Perdue and Democrats who enacted the Act: Is coddling murderers worth spending the remainder of your existence in hell, where the fire is not quenched?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The book-wallah

This book-wallah is not an itinerant
This morning's commute reading (on a Triangle Transit Authority bus from Hillsborough to Chapel Hill*) included the following "hilarious scene depicting the itinerant 'book-wallah,' in [George Orwell's 1937 novel] Burmese Days," quoted by Christopher Hitchens in his 2002 biography, Why Orwell Matters:
His system of exchange was that for any book in his bundle you gave him four annas, and any other book. Not quite any book, however, for the book-wallah, though analphabetic, had learned to recognise and refuse a Bible.
    "No, sahib," he would say plaintively, "no. This book" (he would turn it over disapprovingly in his flat brown hands) "this book with a black cover and gold letters—this one I cannot take. I know not how it is, but all sahibs are offering me this book, and none are taking it. What can it be that is in this black book? Some evil, undoubtedly." [p. 124]
* Thursday was my last day for commuting by van from Mebane. My new work schedule dictates longer hours on my employer's premises.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Finches and a Wren ahopping

Whose heart doesn't dance at the sight of a feisty crowd of frolicking, feeding birds! I was taking a break yesterday from writing a community-watch newsletter when I happened to look out into the back yard. I had to set up my digiscoping equipment right then and there (even if I don't get the best results taking photographs through two panes of glass).

Click to enlarge photos, none of which has been retouched

Then Carolyn thought she saw "our Woodpecker" on a tree directly behind the feeders. I took many but none was focused. Either the double-paned glass really played havoc at 200+ feet or my camera was focusing on the wrong thing amongst all the branches.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Siegfried's at home at Elliotte's

Elliotte Manning is one of Siegfried's favorite people. He's the only groomer Siegfried has ever known, and almost the only one Wally ever knew—except that sometimes Elliotte would suddenly disappear from whomever he was working for and we would have to do a bit of detective work to discover where he'd gone.
    So weren't we happy when he started his own business, over two years ago (September 2009)? Elliotte's Pet Spa & Salon, Inc., in Durham, North Carolina.
    His partner James took the lucky picture of Siegfried mid-lick on Wednesday.
    May you be there for a good long time, Elliotte & James.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Practice for school

Today I asked the dishy young lady who uses an office near mine in the afternoons if she was an intern from the campus. "No," she said, "I'm a temp. In the mornings I teach primary school."
    After I lowered my eyebrows I asked her whether they were giving her interesting work to do here.
    She grinned. "Well, it's appropriate for my other job. I've been filing things alphabetically."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Morris Dean to announce officially later today

It was a difficult but quick decision
No, not that he will not be a candidate for President of the United States. Morris will today notify the appropriate officials at his place of employment that he plans to retire effective this May 1, a year earlier than he had previously been anticipating. Moristotle has been authorized to say so, unofficially. Here, now.
    Details later.

8:43 p.m. Now is later. In my own voice now.
    HR and my supervisor have been notified and tomorrow I begin to complete the paperwork that needs to be submitted (of which there seems to be a huge amount).
    For several months I've been committed to a retirement date of May 1, 2013, and that felt good. I didn't anticipate that making the date official (by involving HR) would make me giddy with a sense of relief and lightness.
    A fellow van commuter, a dishy blonde in her mid twenties, said, "God, I wish I could retire!"
    I said, "Honey, you've got a few years to go. I've been in the 'work force' [a term I can't quite take seriously, it so demeans the human spirit somehow] for forty-five years."
    Eighty-nine days to go. And counting.

Added February 3: