Blog Archives

“THIS MAY OR MAY NOT be a good time to start things, but it’s a great time to continue ‘em.”

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Saturday Night Owls, Sunday Morning Penguins

2011.09.04
By

EVEN IF THERE’S LITTLE TO read — sometimes, especially if there’s little to read — nothing beats sharing an early morning newspaper with someone you love.

The Best Quote Ever About Torah (And Stories In General)

2011.09.04
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“What does that song mean?” I asked Ernie once about a particular song.

He thought for a bit and then replied that if I wanted to know what the words meant, he’d be glad to translate them for me. But if I was asking what the song meant, that was different. A song, he explained, carries much more meaning than just its words. For him, for example, a large part of a song’s meaning is about who first taught it to him — a relative? an elder? a friend? What instructions were given with that teaching? Can it be sung in the daytime or only at night? Can it be sung only at one particular season? Is it a public song or private? Can women sing it or only men? Is it spiritual or ‘just for fun?’ Are there dietary or behavioral restrictions placed upon the singer as he prepares to perform? Each time a song is sung, he went on to explain, it accumulates further meaning — from the people he is singing it with, the audience he is singing it to, the circumstances under which it is sung. If a song is brought out at a funeral, for example, the funeral lends a weight and history to the song that is felt each time it is subsequently sung. Even my own curiosity about the song, he smiled, adds to its meaning.

– Malcolm Margolin, The Ohlone Way
(And yes, I excerpted this Friday, but it’s quite too good not to share in full.)

Love to a Cat

2011.09.02
By

HAD I NOT BEEN SWIFT,
He would have brought the rat in.
It’s the thought that counts.

“BUILDING A BETTER MOUSETRAP IS one thing. Testing it is something else.”

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Torah Study: Books Within Books

2011.09.02
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IN THE OHLONE WAY, AUTHOR Malcolm Margolin relates the following story-about-stories asking one of his Native American sources about a particular tribal song:

“He thought for a bit and then replied that if I wanted to know what the words meant, he’d be glad to translate them for me. But if I was asking what the song meant, that was different. A song, he explained, carries much more meaning than just its words. Read more »

Pithyism #101

2011.09.02
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UNLESS IT CONTAINS A CRITICISM of what the writer didn’t say, no letters-and-opinion section is complete.

Generational Drift

2011.09.02
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BY OUR BEST CALCULATIONS, HISTORY began in Sumer when people first started writing things down (there are some examples of probable earlier scripts, but no one’s translated them yet). This would be about 6,000 years ago.

Let’s assume twenty-five years to the generation. That would be four generations per century. Six thousand years is sixty centuries is two-hundred forty generations.

Which means history began with your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great-grandparents.

Kind of neat to think about.

First Graf: The Lore Of Sail

2011.09.01
By

THE MARITIME SECTION OF MY home library is, like a captain’s yacht, small but well-appointed. I’ve been a ship geek since 1987-88, when I served as a deckhand/docent on a replica of the Golden Hinde, and my taste tends toward the practical: knots, rules of the road, sea survival, Bluejackets’ Manual, even a 1955 Watch Officer’s Guide published at Annapolis. One book whose slim size belies its comprehensivity is more theoretical and historical: I refer to the excellent 1982 volume The Lore Of Sail.

LoS’ 256 pages are divided into four sections plus index: The Hull, Spars and Rigging, The Sail, and Navigation and Ship-handling. Each is a well-illustrated guide to the historical evolution of ships from ancient Egypt to modern Europe. Its size makes it perfect for backpack or peacoat pocket while browsing the world’s great maritime museums or rigged ships, but it’s also museum-like in scope and scale. From the Introduction by Captain Sam Svensson:

From ancient times, sailing the seas has been a unique profession, with techniques and methods which have always puzzled the landlubber. One thousand years before Christ, Solomon said that the way of a ship in the midst of the sea was too wonderful for him to understand.

Slouching Toward Tishrei

2011.09.01
By

TODAY IS THE SECOND OF Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashana, and that fact lends the period an air of expectancy and overhaul.

The Jewish New Year is less a time for partying all night and more a time for reflection and making right, especially of our relationships. Have we wronged anyone? Hurt anyone? Been less than true or right or kind? Now’s the time to fix that.

So if I have in the past year treated you less than you deserve, or been blunt or flip where tender seriousness would have been better, please let me know. Life is too short not to live it fully, and it’s hard to live it fully if there’s an interpersonal problem sticking things up. As Elwood P. Dowd would say, “I’d rather be kind than right.” (I’d actually rather be both, but sometimes you can’t have everything.)

May your own annual journey to renewal and rebirth go as smoothly as it needs to be, and, to paraphrase Ecclesiastes, may you become no wiser than necessary.

Pithyism #4.5×10^9

2011.08.31
By

IF SEDIMENTARY ROCK LAYERS ARE like pages of a book, archaeology is the art and science of compiling an index and table of contents.

Prosatio Silban and the Visitor From The Sands

2011.08.31
By

Prosatio Silban in his galleywagon / Illo (c) 2008 Alana Dill, http://youbecomeart.com

PROSATIO SILBAN WAS NOT KNOWN for nothing as “The Cook For Any Price.” He had long ago foresworn the Sacreanthood and serving people’s souls for serving their bellies and letting the souls look after themselves. Yet every now and again, he wondered if his gods were still playing tricks on him.

He was cleaning up his galleywagon late one night at the edge of one of Soharis’ more workaday fish markets, making ready to fold down the canopy-bulkhead, when the Siddis appeared.

Now, to understand this story, you must know that cosmopolitan Soharis, perched on the edge of the Rimless Sea and the Lands of Exile beyond the sunset, is the sort of place where one may expect to meet almost anyone at almost any time. But at that, it is rare to meet a Siddis — more properly the Siddis, since only has one ever been seen anywhere, and of that rose-red robe-wrapped one little is known save that they or he inhabited a city somewhere in the Great Eastern Desert and their or his presence portended unsettling things.

Prosatio Silban was intrigued. He was also tired from a reasonably profitable day selling fish skewers and goat pasties to Soharis’ shop-clerks and porters and was looking forward to putting his feet up. But he could not deny a hungry customer. “Good evening, sir.” Read more »

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Celebrating the remaining days:hours:etc until Apophis II. Live it up, Earthlings.

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