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Rumilluminations Jan.2010
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Fri, January 01 2010 - 10:24 am

January 31, 2010                                       Valparaiso, IN

Today my partner said, "If you only send half a twitter, does that make you a twit?"

Celebrate the last day of January!  Don't celibate it!

Blog your favorite frog!

Email your favorite female!

Fortify yourself against February with flights of fancy and faults of folly!

Only four more weeks of below forty!

January 30, 2010                                       Valparaiso, IN

People who stop using lead in toys only to replace it with cadmium, which is worse.

People who kill other people with a chuckle or with stolidity, only to cry when they are found guilty at trial.  (We know who they are crying for, then!)

Read the paper, watch the new, and you can have no doubt that there are people in the world who simply do not care.

It's hard for the sheltered among us to believe sometimes.

For my innocence, the news is the noose!

January 29, 2010                                        Valparaiso, IN

I have been weirded out by the "latest health scare" reported in The Week that for every hour of TV you watch a day you are more likely to die of cancer, etc.

I know that these TV hours are added to the hours already spent at a desk by a full-time secretary or the multiple hours spent in front of a computer by a video-game or porn addict, but still.

I find myself asking, "What if you are sitting in front of a TV and doing something, like crocheting or quilting?"

Are sedentary TV hours more dangerous than blogging hours?

Does it make a difference if you get up and go to the bathroom or fix a snack every hour or so?

I already feel that I do not get enough exercise.  Now I'm probably going to embark on some equal time program (1hour exercise for every hour parked in front of the TV, blahgging (in my case) and playing computer games) to maintain some sort of balance.

There aren't enough hours in the day!

And another thing I worry about:  what about the air pollution I encounter when I'm outdoors exercising?  How does that affect my health?

Oh, the perils of life without health insurance!  I actually have to try to stay healthy.  What does all this calculation do to my poor overworked brain?

It's a good thing I do strength training at the gym.  I just read that older women who do strength training an hour or two a week have better judgment for business-type decisions than those who don't....

Too bad I don't conduct any business! 

January 28, 2010                                         Valparaiso, IN

You can say what you want about Tea-Baggers' politics.  They may appear stupid and reactionary, hiring Sarah Palin to speak to them (to the tune of $150,000.)  They may be feeding the mouths that bite them by supporting the ascendancy of their oppressors.  Yeah, go ahead and say what you want about their politics.  They suck.

But you must confess that their sense of style is impeccable.  Just look across the crowds of svelt figures at their rallies!  See how fetchingly the tea bags bob, hanging from the brims of their straw hats!

So what if they have empty heads and full bodies?

Just think how much exercise they get from toting around the extra weight of those tea bags!

I wish they would all just re-enact the original tea party and jump, tea bags and all, into the Boston Harbor!

January 27, 2010                                         Valparaiso, IN

Just read in The Week (January 29, 2010) about a sea slug, Elysia chlorotica, that incorporates chloroplasts from an algae and permanently gains (by also using genes from the algae in its own DNA) the ability to live on light.  (Just for the record, they quoted  Science News as their source.)

Now I ask you:  What's to stop us from doing that?  Maybe someday when we call ourselves green, we will be literally green and we won't have to tell anyone that obvious fact!

Wow!  The possibilities this evokes in real life, not to mention all the comic skits and movies that could revolve around this idea!

It boggles the mind.  Would the only people who would be provided with the biochemical means be trendy, rich, "in" people?  Would eating at all be a status symbol?  My partner says eating lite has a whole new meaning now!

Or would the recipients of this amazing technology,conversely, be the poorest of the poor, provided by rich nations with the means to survive without food?  In that case being green would be a stigma, and green people might testify that what Kermit the Frog said, "It's hard being green!" is true.  Once you have been rescued from starvation by turning green, could you ever reverse the process and go back to your original color?

Would I opt to be green?  Too bad James Cameron did not know about this when he wrote about the planet Pandora!  His exotic race might be green instead of blue.  No, it's better this way.  Green people would make for too much green on the screen.

Will the mysterious green slug turn out to be a Pandora's box for world economy?  Globalization replaced by absolute individual separatism?

This is one of the coolest tidbits of news I've heard in ages!  Good for maybe a few weeks of obsession for those of us so inclined - or should I say those of us so compelled?

Of course Googling the scientific name of this critter yields further sources of information - Wikkipedia, and  There appear to be many other images available, and I saw a video of a light gray-colored sea slug eating his first meal, gradually turning green.

It is downright inspiring.  I'm green with envy!

January 26, 2010                                          Valparaiso, IN

To spend or not to spend?  That is the question!

My mother almost never spends money and has managed to save up quite a bit for herself.

I, on the other hand, manage not to save at all - or not for long.

The conservatives want us to stop spending; the liberals believe that only spending will save the economy.

Obama seems to be schizophrenic on the issue.  He wants to stimulate the economy but also wants to curtail spending.

I tend to think that sure, we want to spend the most effectively possible - but isn't spending better than not spending at this point?

Does it really matter where the money goes as long as it re-enters the economy here?

I was thinking maybe Haiti is a good place to spend money.  It is close enough to the U.S. that building materials and expertise can come from here.  A big effort in Haiti would help the Haitians and stimulate our economy also.  Construction, not destruction!

Where does the food and water come from when we give aid to the Haitians?  It comes from here.  So in a way, when we give to Haiti we also give to ourselves.  Sounds like a win-win solution to me.  Make love, not war!

January 25, 2010                                          Valparaiso, IN

Now I am reminded about "the dead of winter."  Within the last two days almost all the snow melted, but today it is snowing again.  We walked about two miles, and the only living creatures we saw besides people were a squirrel or two.

Shortly after Christmas I ordered some "Wicked Good Slippers" from LL Bean.  I get a pair of them every fifteen years or so (literally!)  You might as well get them whenever you want because I've never seen them on sale for a lower-than-normal price.

When I put them on in early January, I almost swooned with pleasure.  The warmth and security they gave me helped me brave the rest of the winter.

Those slippers are my number 1 prescription for the winter blues!  (Well, those and flannel-lined jeans, also sold by LL Bean.)

Another thing I've been meaning to write about is making fresh juice with a juicer.  I know you have heard the hype before, but it is true!  We have been doing that since December or so, and my liver spots are fading.  The weird skin thickenings (non-carcinogenic but hardly "beauty marks") on my back are shrinking.  My partner cannot believe how fresh my skin looks and keeps raving about it.  This is definitely the kind of feedback you want from your partner!  He uses carrots, celery, beets, apples, and varying other ingredients like lemon, oranges and ginger.  This healthy habit does not have to be cost prohibitive if you shop smart. 

The third thing I want to tout is electric toothbrushes.  I want to wield mine enthusiastically like a sword!  The length of time I have to sit with my mouth open and let the dental assistant chip at my teeth has gone down drastically since I started using one.

Three things I have to sell - but I'm not selling them!  (Although I confess I have seen an ad in this website.  It is a fun site to visit anyway - good stuff about state parks for camping customers!)

January 23, 2010                                         Valparaiso, IN

Yesterday morning when I went to take a bath, there was a granddaddy longlegs in the bathtub.  Spiders can't get out of there on their own, so I dangled a piece of toilet paper over him, caught him up in it, and tried to carry it over to the wastebasket.

He kept bailing out, back into the tub.  I was getting impatient and thinking of just killing him, but instead I spoke to him sweetly and coaxingly.  This time he hung on until I could get him to the trash.

Not much of a save, you might think, but I figured in insect life any delay of inevitable death might be a meaningful span.  Besides, I figured he could get out of there.

He did, and was scaling (and falling off) the wall while I was drying off.

When I got upstairs, I heard a train go noisily by, and remembered how as a girl I would hear those trains going West and imagine being on them.

I did go West, and for a very long time.

Now, for the first time since I returned over five years ago, I remembered those long ago feelings.

And oh, yes, I will go West again.

But I had to wonder:  was there any relation between the granddaddy longlegs episode and my memory?

January 22, 2010                                         Valparaiso, IN

Movies seem dark to me, especially on the small screen.  Maybe I'm developing cataracts, or maybe movies are just darker.  Young people today are so much more visually sophisticated than we were, maybe they don't need so much visual detail to see what is going on.  Maybe they don't need as much time to process what they see.

At the same time, it's harder for me to hear the lines.  Either actors aren't enunciating as well as they used to, or I'm getting hard of hearing.  Or both!  It seems (I've heard educators say this) that the young these days don't listen very well.  So maybe it doesn't matter if the actors utter their lines clearly.  People aren't listening anyway!

Well, it may be true that the way someone says something is 70% of the message, and it is not important to get the exact words, but I don't think so.

70% is a lousy score in comprehension, and I hope that more than 70% of what I say is heard and understood, or I'm wasting my breath.

Oh, well.  I'm off to the movies!  Hope springs eternal, and now I can let the actors risk wasting their breath!  I must admit though, these days they aren't wasting much of it.

January 21, 2010                                          Valparaiso, IN

Yesterday I saw a TV show that asked the question:  What is the difference between obsession and addiction?

I think I know.  Obsession is an addiction to thinking about one thing or person.  As I have probably written before, this can be good or bad for you depending on whether it is a creative joy or a frustrating dead end.  Whether it is good for anyone else is questionable.  When I used to obsess about filing I'm sure it was very boring - what outsiders call "shop talk."

One person's purpose in life is another person's snooze.  If you aren't involved, who cares?

I thought it would be fun to look up the derivation of the word "session" since obsession would obviously be related, right?  (Would a filibuster really be an obsession?  Ha, ha.)

I bet they are related, but the proof is, I guess, lost in the fogs of the Latin language.  Session is ultimately derived from the Latin verb "sedere" - "to sit."  Obsession is from the Latin word for "besiege" - "obsidere."

The words in Latin are very similar, and when you besiege a city you spend a lot of time sitting around outside of it.

But it doesn't seem to me to be a very appropriate derivation for the word "obsess."  The obsessed individual is not being sat upon from the outside.  His own mind has taken him over and forced him to dwell on, churn up, over and over, the same subject.

I guess one can be beseiged from within.

Only when a person really sees how boring such an obsession can be (especially if it is self-destructive - remember the link between anger and boredom!) will he stop.

Hey, how about yesterday's Rumillumination for an example of obsession?

Are we bored yet?

(I just changed it a little - added another long e word.  Talk about obsession!)

January 20, 2010                                    Valparaiso, IN

Deeply sleepy, we creep into sheets and leap into dreams.  Sheep meet in green leas, peas speak peace among weeds.  See people greeting?  Keep tweeting, sweeting!

Free beings, be pleading, not fleeing!  Dealing, not feeling!  Steeling, not stealing!  Wheeling, not weeping!

Three teals leave the sea.  Beeping winged creatures leave trees.

Wheeze, breeze!  Freeze, sleet!  Be fleet, cleated feet!

Queens treat!  Beans, lean meat, wheat!

Please - cleave to belief in leaves!   

January 19, 2010                                     Valparaiso, IN

It is too bad about the United States of America.  We have fabulous communications, but what do we communicate about?  I confess to (mea culpa!) sliding in subject matter from the sublime to the ridiculous, and hopefully laughing so hard that I sober up again, but at least I am aware that there is more out there than the world of entertainment.

Why are we so obsessed with show business?  (Or literary business, or just plain business?)

I remember learning in high school that this country or that was run by a dictatorship, but I was woefully ignorant about what a horror that could mean.  Here we were, living in the U.S. and worried about Communism (well, some of us were - not apolitical me) when in the oceans south of our country there were horrible things going on that we were oblivious to.  At least we, in general, acted as if we were.

It reminds me of 1985 in Santa Fe, when nine miles south of town the worst prison revolt and carnage in American history up to that time was taking place.  The peaceful life in town took on a surreal tone.

Maybe we should stop living as if late night TV were more important than earthquakes.  Maybe we should start to recognize that our peaceful, plentiful existence is the surrealistic one.

I once told a friend of mine who was complaining about the rat race of professional life in the U.S., "My world is real, too."

Maybe it isn't.  Maybe it is a fluke, an aberration - a transitory dream.     

January 18, 2010                                      Valparaiso, IN

I think moms who name their children Dwayne or Lane or Betty or Jane might be very smart moms.  It has to be a social asset to possess a name, which, when you are done introducing yourself, leaves a smile on your face.

Of course, speaking of names, Rose and Joe and Luke would be good, too.  Those names leave your lips in a good position to be kissed.  Lulu seems like it would be good that way, but maybe the reiteration of the syllable just takes it all too far.

I wonder if there is any correlation between such speculations and reality.  I never particularly liked my own name - Esther.  When you are done saying it, your mouth is in a perfect position for a grrr.  I guess that could be a positive thing in a sexy kind of way.  I'm afraid, however that Esther is not considered to be a sexy name.  That is documented.  Seriously - but don't ask me where!  Psychology Today, maybe?  Fifteen years ago.  Perhaps times have changed since then.

At any rate, I am happy enough with my current situation not to start going by my middle name, which would leave a smile on my face when I say it.

That's okay.  Who remembers names on first introduction, anyway?  Unless it's a somewhat unusual one, like Dwayne or Lane!

And leaves a charming smile on your face!  Try that feat after saying, "Robert!"

January 17, 2010                                       Valparaiso, IN

Things maybe you shouldn't say if you are ninety:

"I'll survive."  That begs the question, "Well, yeah, but for how long?"

"I've been walking without a walker all my life."  So what?

"When you are as old as I am, you'll understand."  Let's not keep people in suspense - especially until an age they are not likely to attain!

Of course, I probably shouldn't say, "I'll survive," either.  The younger generation already think I'm old.  Even I, who will at most cop to being "oldish" realize that more and more of those proving their mortality are younger than I am.

Even to me, the words, "I'll survive" seem like tempting fate.

"I'll manage" - that's cool, I guess.  We even manage to deal with death somehow.

At least for a while.  But what about the possibilities after death? 

Even the words "I'll manage" seem a little hubristic, considering how little we know of the other side!

Of course, if there is anything after life recognizable as ourselves, it will turn out that "I'll survive" wasn't inappropriate after all!

Ah, the ruminations of oldish age!  Nothing illuminating about them today!

But I'll probably survive.

For a while.

January 16, 2010                                        Valparaiso, IN

Well, I was going to write more about the Catch 22 situation in which the young today are placing the graying among us.  About how they don't want us to take jobs, but they don't want to support us if we can't get a job.

But I'm bored.

I'd much rather complain about how terribly gray it is outside today, about how little light there seems to be outside or inside these days.

Except that's boring, too.

How wonderful, the situation in life that allows us to be bored!

I think I'll concentrate for a while on the predicament of the people of Haiti, who would probably love the privilege of boredom.  Should I give a donation right now through my cell phone via text message?  (I've never texted before.)  Should I give to UNICEF via the Internet?  Should I wait until I have real money in my checking account and write a check to the American Friends Service Committee?

The energizing feeling of having options to weigh does dispel boredom, unless you think making decisions is boring.

In that case, you are depressed!

January 15, 2010                                         Valparaiso, IN

I thought Rosie O'Donnell had it right on when she told celebrities that if they were going to ask the American public for money (I think this was after 9/ll) that they should first donate a million of their own money.

But when it comes to older people giving up their jobs to younger people just because they've had those jobs for a while, that is absurd.  (Actually, any decision based on only one consideration is probably suspect at least.)

When I was living in Corvallis there was a bus that went from Corvallis straight out to Newport on the coast.  To get there it had to cross the coastal range.  This was not a hair-raising trip, but it was curvaceous.

When the older bus driver drove it, I was fine.  When the younger bus driver drove it, I felt sickly when I got back to Corvallis - so much so that I eventually stopped taking the bus at all.

I couldn't understand it.  The bus got there on time with either driver.  One could do it without making me nauseus, the other couldn't.

If enough people felt the way I did, that bus route was probably discontinued.

So even bus drivers, Rosie, are not subject to the kind of simplistic formula you recommend.  Let alone one of the pinnacles of the comedy profession, late night talk show host.  We are not talking elected office with a specific term here, and if we were, guess who would win?  Jay Leno, obviously.

Oh, and come to think of it, I don't think Rosie was right about rich people donating a million when they ask the rest of us to give money.  Multimillionaires don't have any right to ask the rest of us for our dollars at all, unless they first divest themselves of their own money for charity.  They should give until they are at, say, a lower middle class level of income.

Yeah, you rich folks, put yourselves in our ten-year-old cars and cheap on-sale shoes - and then come to us for hand-outs!

In the meantime, young'uns, don't covet the jobs of those more capable than you!

January 14, 2010                                         Valparaiso, IN

In the sixties there was much talk about a "generation gap."  There were definitely different values between the generations, and the lack of respect of each generation for the other made communications difficult.

Now, between my generation and the generation behind it there seems to be more of a generation battle going on.  Not between me and my children - we cooperate rather well, I think.  Maybe other families do also.

But in the professional world - watch out!

This reality is being exemplified by the puling immature whining of the younger late-night generation on NBC.

Jay Leno was king of late night.  Through no fault or failure in performance of his own, he was pushed off the Tonight Show so a person of the younger generation could have a turn.

I don't know all the politics and manipulation that went on behind the scenes to make that happen.  I'm sure it was all very complicated.

But what is my generation supposed to do for the younger generation?

I voluntarily left a job - no big deal, that job - in which I was better than competent.  I could still do better, being "anally retentive" (not my description of myself) than many other people at the same job.

Despite my past excellent performance, could I get a similar job now?  Probably not - because of my age.  I have no right to complain.  I left the job and wouldn't want it back.

Being shoved out of a job because of your age is another matter entirely.

The "younger" generation (it's all relative) is perfectly willing to use excellence and performance as a measure of themselves against each other.  Why are they unwilling to apply the same energy to being better than those of us who are older?

Beat us in a fair fight, babies!  Don't expect us to roll over and play dead!

Just because we are old enough to have changed your diapers doesn't mean we are going to let you change ours until we are incapable of going to the potty by ourselves without messing the floor.

But thanks, anyway! 

January 13, 2010                                         Valparaiso, IN

Yesterday we came home from a 3D viewing of Avatar to the news that Haiti had been hit by its worst earthquake in 240 years.

It is eerie because while I was watching this magical, technogically-innovative breakthrough, I mentally paused once, and thought, "How can I be indulging in this privileged pastime while there are those in the world that are massively suffering and suffering massive want?"  (Well, more or less that's what I thought.)

Cultural guilt, yes.  A cliche.  But that doesn't mean we shouldn't feel it now and then.

I gave myself permission to turn my attention back to the movie by promising myself that I would start a new category of indulgence donation (similar to my chocolate matching fund) whereby I would give to charity an amount equal to what I spend at the movie theatre.

But what about the time I spend?  I don't give equal time to charities as compensation for my escape reading.

And what about space?  I have more living space than many.  Should I donate some of that?  That could be the biggest infringement of all on my freedom!

Right now I'm sticking to financial matching of frivolous spending.  Until I have fewer responsibilities of my own, I'm going to try to keep this donation thing simple.

And as for my possible clairvoyance, did I feel a very slight tremor of earth under my own feet? 

January 11, 2010                                         Valparaiso, IN

When my father was in the hospital over five years ago, a nurse told me about her own mother and father.  The mother, it seems, took to her bed with a chronic ailment.  Her father went to work every day and came home and cared for his wife.

Guess who died first?  Her father.  The stress of work and caregiving, my informant said, can be harder on a person than sickness.

A year or two after my father's death my mother stood in the main downtown street, and speculated that she could outlive all her children yet.  She didn't seem too heartbroken by the idea.

From those two incidents a fear (irrational, perhaps, and only occasional) that my 90-year-old mother would outlive me, and that my demise would be caused by the stress of caring for the one who bore me.  To strangers she calls herself "ornery" and it sounds really cute.

Living with it isn't.

It turns out this fear of not outliving one's parent is not uncommon.  One of my friends wonders if he will outlive his demented father.  Another reports that his father talks the same way:  my friend's grandfather is on no medication, his father takes half a dozen.

Probably I should be too ashamed to write about this, but it's hard to feel guilty about hoping for the natural order of things.  I honestly have no desire to outlive my children.

Meanwhile, I try to keep my stress levels as low as possible.  I don't have a job away from home.  But as I was saying to some friends last night, I don't know if I can take enough cleansing breaths and say enough "Ohms" to stay healthy.

I said it in all seriousness, but it drew a good laugh.

Well, I'll take my laughs where I can get them.  I laughed too.

Then I took a great big cleansing breath and chanted, "OOOhm!"

January 10, 2010                                         Valparaiso, IN

Today I finally sat down again after months of neglect and address my biggest Internet buggaboo - Facebook!

First I tried to log in, but of course I had forgotten my password.  Trying to get my confirmation and reset my password is what discouraged me from responding to Facebook requests two months ago.

This time I managed to leap that virtual hurdle and actually log in.  No, people, I am not unwilling to be your friend.  I just haven't gotten facially literate yet.

So, anyway, I log in and get a message from a young friend to the effect of, "Glad to see you've maximized your hipness by joining Facebook!"

Alas, if only I were hip!

I'm afraid I am only hip enough to break it!

January 9, 2010                                          Valparaiso, IN

You know how some airplanes have "eject" buttons that pilots push when they know they are going to crash and want to get clear of the plane?

I think there are similar "reject" buttons in life.

People talk about being afraid of rejection, but I don't believe it.  The I Ching advises not risking the humiliation of refusal until you have made your relations firm.  If you ask for something and are refused, it might be because the person does not feel like doing it.  Chances are it is because you have failed to do much for him.  Instead of dealing with the reality of the situation and allowing the person time to appreciate you and what you have to offer (and actually doing something to earn consideration), you yourself have opted to push the "reject" button.

If a community rejects a person, it is usually because that person first rejected the members of the community:  she spurned the values of the community and rejected the option of caring about the feelings of others.  She pushed the "reject" button herself.

Of course, not all mechanisms are perfect.  Sometimes people push the "reject" button again and again and it just doesn't work.  Eventually, though, human psychology being what it is, the turn-off and turn-out will occur.

And of course, the rejected one will blame everyone else - when often enough he pushed the red "reject" button himself. 

January 8, 2010                                          Valparaiso, IN

Today we took a walk to the Post Office (empty of customers). 

We had to walk in the street because most of the sidewalks were not shoveled.

We got tense and ugly looks from motorists whose territory we had invaded.

Hey, folks!  Shovel the sidewalks and we won't saunter in the streets!

Saunter is hardly the word for it.  Cowering is more what we were doing, especially after a car went by me at twenty miles an hour not more than a foot to my right!

It is especially disturbing to see institutions like Churches with unshoveled walks.  Don't they have the charitable offerings to hire a needy person or two to shovel their walks?

What about all the people who can't be bothered to shovel their own walks?  Don't they have the money to hire someone else?

Don't tell me you can't hire people to do shovel snow.  I've had people accost me on the street offering their services.

Hey, come to think of it, pay me and I'll shovel your walks!

January 7, 2010                                   Valparaiso, IN

I am the victim of snow obsession.

If the snow is very light and fluffy, a back and forth whisk with a floor broom will do.

A slightly deeper but still dry and fluffy snow is amenable to being shoved around with a wide push broom.

If the snow is more than a couple of inches I bring out the big gun - the snow shovel.

I like to believe that each tool and technique uses a different group of muscles, so that a couple of walk cleanings and two miles of walking on a day like today (snowy all day) replaces a workout at the gym.

Last night the snow was magical and sparkly.  This morning it was soft and powdery.

A snow obsession?  I'm no exception!  Only for some people snow is torture, while for skiers (and sometimes me) it is winter bliss!

(Of course, if my partner is willing to share the work, I will nobly allow him to subtract from my pleasure!  We have each cleared the walk twice today in attempt to stay ahead of the winter storm, and that, my friends, is enough!)

January 6, 2010                                   Valparaiso, IN

Today is epiphany, which is the day the wise men visited Jesus, as I recall, bearing gifts.

This new year comes in with several people of my acquaintance facing a fight with cancer in one form or another.

I hope today will bring you all the gift of better health!

And that's a safe gift wish for everybody.

And for those of you who are just facing the seasonal blues, well, better mental health for you, too!

January 5, 2010                                    Valparaiso, IN

I had a weird dream last night.  I dreamt I was saying, "... like some kind of Rumillumination Mat in the living room you can't get rid of!"

What?  That was a real challenge - by all appearances, from my own self!

What to make of it?  Do I really feel my Rumilluminations are like a garish flourescent floor mat?

Should I forego the dubious pleasure of my daily mental romp?

No!  Certainly not!  I have decided that must have been Piglet talking.  Piglet - who has been neglected for three months, at least!  Piglet - who is one of my favorite characters, if not my readers'!

I'm coming, Piglet!  I have a story to write about you, honest!  Soon!

Or was my little tantrum my inner movie fiend talking?  Having a hissy-fit because I didn't want my responses parvii et interrupti to be on my home page for a whole month?

Or, - Oh, no!  Am I in danger of being murdered by my inner Flower Child?


(I think I just tripped on my flourescent day-glo Rumillumination Mat!)

January 4, 2010                                     Valparaiso, IN

Ha, ha!  I just thought of the most obvious example of all of Chinese simplicity, Western mediocrity (just in the sense of being median, don't get all insulted - it's a joke) and Hindu multiplicity.

How about in religion?  Most Chinese are Buddhists and they don't really have a deity per se.  Westerners tend to have one god, maybe a triune one.  And the Hindu religion has a multitude of gods.

Okay, okay, I'm not a scholar.  These are just impressions, not cultural pronouncements.

It is fun to speculate, though.  What else is there to do during a week in which the temperature is not supposed to rise above 25 degrees F?

Blame the fever of the mind on the cold weather!  Overcondensation!

January 3, 2010                                     Valparaiso, IN

After comparing cultures yesterday, it occurred to me that the Chinese have more space in their language than we English-speaking peoples do.

After all, the Chinese don't use verbs!  The relationship between subject and object (if they even use terms like that) is an inferred relationship.  So there don't seem to be as many parts of speech in Chinese as in English.

It made me wonder about Hindi.  Do they have a more complex language than we do?  I called my sister who is studying Hindi and asked her.

Her answer was basically, And how!  There are many more declensions and tenses in Hindi than in English, and even more in Hindi's mother language, Sanskrit, than in one of our mother tongues, Latin!

And that is saying a mouthful.  So my parallels remain parallel.  Hindi, though it doesn't have a bigger vocabulary than English, is a more grammatically complex one.

And as an interesting aside, my sister said, Hindi has one hundred different words for counting from one to one hundred.  That is, no grouping by tens like twenties and thirties.  Nothing to make it more simple or systematic.  One hundred different words.

Yowsa.  I'll have to ask her what happens after you get to one hundred!  Living that long is probably easier than counting it!

January 2, 2010                                     Valparaiso, IN

Uh-oh.  I just looked up the Chinese New Year for 2010 and find that it is on February 14th this year.  Valentine's Day!

Well, I have written in the past what I feel about Valentine's Day.  Last year we celebrated my mother's 90th birthday early on VD, so that really defused the usual issues.

Maybe we should do the same this year.  Yay!  Celebrations!  That might set a good tone for the rest of the year.

I also found out that February 14th is the first day of the Year of the Tiger.  Watch out, piggies!

Don't you think it is curious that Western astrology measures its sign changes in months, while China and Japan do it in years?  India does it in Nakshatras, which are approximately two weeks long.

(It just occurred to me this corresponds to musical scales.  In the octave, which is our biggest western musical measuring unit (with 12 tones between octaves) the Chinese scale has, I believe fewer.  (At least, when I learned to sing a scale Chinese style it had fewer tones - all whole notes.)  The Indian scale has 21 tones in an octave - the smallest of these intervals indistinguishable to most of us Westerners.)

Which brings me to the question:  When is the traditional Indian New Year?

What do you know, the answer is complicated.  I accessed one web-site which reported that in Assam and Bengal it is mid-April.  In Punjab it is also mid-April - the 13th.  In Maharaditra it is at the end of March (the Hindu month of Chaitra.)  (I just now made a New Year's Resolution to include more internet sources in my website but damned if I can find the one I just got this information from.  Starting right now I will quote more exactly!)

There is more info at about New Years in other parts of India. 

Of course, now every country in the world celebrates the same New Year we do, the one created and defined by the Romans.  All roads lead to Rome, evidently, even the ones traveling back in time!

January 1, 2010                                      Valparaiso, IN

Here's a new year, with a blue sky and sunshine.

Well, that makes me happy!

Since the title of this article is a portmanteau word, maybe I should play that word game.

This morning, in the wee hours after being awakened by a bizarre encounter downstairs, I was speculating on the ancient Chinese "stuporstition" that you should be careful about the way you spend New Year's Day.  The idea is that your activities that day set the tone for the whole year.

I was hoping it is not true, because I don't want my sleep disturbed every night!

But either I was sleepy (my stupor) or I think superstition is stupid.  Either way, I hope that the way this year started is not repeatable by 365 times!

Or wait - there is yet hope!

This was a Chinese superstition.  If I don't like how my New Year's Day is going, I can celebrate the Chinese New Year instead!

I would look up when on the calendar that day will fall this year, but I'm too sleesy.  Or is it dropsy?

I'm going to sled!  Er, I mean, to bleep!

I wish.  Oh well, the day - and the year - are yet young.

So much so that I imagine I hear a baby sequalling. 

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