Archive for the ‘My life’ Category

The larval menace in their tents

May 15, 2019

Yesterday on the My Home is California group on Facebook, Jen Ede posted this scene of creatures afflicting greenery at Subway Cave, Old Station (in Lassen National Forest):

(#1)

That’s an amateur shot; here’s a more dramatic photo, with much better lighting:

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Wooden arches

May 5, 2019

Another posting about the objects of everyday life and how good design can provide us with small pleasures. In this case, the wooden arches that grace my condo complex, serving as entrance ways on the street, as trellises for vines, and as decorative elements for people on the street as well as for those of us inside the complex. The  current installation (recently repaired):


(#1) Dark-stained wood in the morning sun: four uprights; horizontally on top, two lintels (lintels going left to right) deep and ten rafters (rafters going front to back) wide; ivy climbing on the two front uprights

(That’s my place, 722, on the left, the stairs to 718 and 720 on the right.)

The repair job replaced the right back upright and all the stuff on top. Some details below

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get ’em, stop it, gimme

May 4, 2019

Among the everyday examples of a phenomenon subjected to analysis in an awesome new paper by Joan Bresnan, “On Weak Object Pronouns in English”, which she will present at the Lexical Functional Grammar conference this July in Canberra (LFG2019, 8-10 July, sponsored by the ARC’s [Australian Research Council] Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, program on-line here).

Joan’s paper is a demonstration of what can be done with serious resources — really big databases, serious statistical tools, complex analytic tools — in investigating  very ordinary, but intricately structured, phenomena, and in how you might try to integrate the approaches of usage-based frameworks with those of formal grammar.

For me the paper has a special resonance, because the analysis develops some ideas of mine in a little note from 1986 that appeared only in a working papers volume and has mostly gone unnoticed since then: “The Unaccented Pronoun Constraint in English” (OSU Working Papers in Linguistics 32.100-113, 1986).

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Early summer

May 2, 2019

Plant news from my house, now we’re definitely into summer here in Palo Alto — plus a notice that my 4/13 posting on Easter egg quotations has been fixed, sort of: the idea and the term are introduced, with an Economist example in an issue on synthetic biology, a subtly deployed quotation from Gertrude Stein (which leads to a Gertrudian snowclone).

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Where are you going with that?

April 30, 2019

The One Big Happy from 4/3, recently in my comics feed: the tough neighborhood kid James and his sledgehammer:

(#1)

What I hear in the first panel is an echo of a quotation with an ax, not a sledgehammer:

‘Where’s Papa going with that axe?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

One of the great first lines in English literature, just grips you right off, does E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

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The white and the red

April 19, 2019

The (Christian) liturgical colors for the season: white for Easter Sunday, red for today, Good Friday, the day of crucifixion (and for some churches, red for all of Holy Week). White the color of purity and perfection, and so of Jesus as Christ. Red the color of blood and sacrifice, and so of the crucifixion.

As it happens, yesterday’s events included a visit to the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, where I encountered two especially notable flowers, one white, one deep red. First, the flowers, not (at first) identified:


(#1) Blanchier


(#2) Rougier

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Vasodilation

March 8, 2019

(References in later sections to men’s bodies and mansex, sometimes in plain terms; that material is not suitable for kids or the sexually modest. First, though, some pressure music and some stuff about blood pressure.)

Two things that happened to come together: my blood pressure readings of 97/59 on Wednesday, 105/57 yesterday; and an Out magazine story “Lucille Ball Did Poppers to Ease Chest Pains, Says New Show” by Mathew Rodriguez yesterday. The connection being that poppers trigger a (temporary) signficant drop in blood pressure.

If you don’t know what the poppers in question are (maybe you’re thinking of fried stuffed jalapeño peppers), don’t be alarmed; it will eventually become clear.

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The cable gremlins

March 7, 2019

(A version of things I posted on Facebook earlier today about my life, with glancing allusions to various phenomena of social life. Posted here to have a more permanent and accessible record, on WordPress. There will be a little bit of linguistics.)


(#1) (Not an accurate portrayal of Xfinity/Comcast staff)

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F-sharp

February 28, 2019

(Mostly music. I know you’re thinking: Jesse Sheidlower wrote “The F Word”, and now it looks like I’m writing on “The F Sharp Word” — like the F word, only more pointed. But no. No sex, and barely anything to do with language. But you’ll have to endure Antonio Soler and Muzio Clementi.)

From the lgbt+ neighborhood on Facebook, in a discussion that started with ukuleles — there was actually some convoluted lgbt-relevance in that — and turned to accordions (plus some bagpipe stuff), whereupon I spoke approvingly of Astor Piazolla’s music as performed on accordions and even more of Antonio Soler’s keyboard music (in particular his sonatas for various keyboard instruments, including the organ) as arranged for accordion. Adding that Joseph Petrič has wonderful recordings of some of the sonatas on accordion (I have his 1997 CD).

Jeff Shaumeyer responded:

Oh, I particularly like the F♯ Major sonata — it strikes me as rather silly, and *who* writes in F♯ major anyway?

And that set me off.

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The great work begins

February 24, 2019

(two morning names, of very different type)

Yesterday morning I came to consciousness slowly slowly, as a voice filled my head with the exulting declaration:


(#1) Society6 art print: The Great Work Begins by Maxfield and Madison

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