Friday, February 27, 2009

This Breaks My Heart

This story, reprinted here from the BBC without permission, broke my heart the first time I read it, and I've thought about it so much since that I went back to the story to see if there had been any kind of an update. It doesn't look as if there has been. Imagine having a companion for 54 years taken away like this. I hope this old sailor gets his pal back. I'd buy the thieves another bird if they'd just give this one back. Standing offer. Does anyone out there in blogland have any more on this ?
Cockatoo, 54, stolen during raid

Cocky might have been at sea for years, but he does not swear

A 54-year-old cockatoo called Cocky has been stolen from his owner who bought him as a chick from a market. Former sailor Leslie Proctor, 86, said he bought Cocky, thought to be worth £1,000, back with him on one of his last voyages and wanted him returned.
The lively cockatoo, which can squawk its name, and say "ta-ta" had been asleep at Mr Proctor's home in Blaydon when he was snatched on Tuesday night.

Police said Cocky might have been stolen to order.

Mr Proctor said Cocky had "quite a temper" and was "a handful". The former Merchant Navy sailor who was at sea for 22 years, bought the bird as a chick from Paddy's Market in Sydney, Australia. He said: "I brought Cocky back with me on one of my last voyages and he's been with me ever since. He's good company and I'd very much like him returned to me."

Despite the bird's seafaring ways, he was never taught to swear. Instead, the great sulphur-crested cockatoo can say his name, "Cocky Proctor", "cup of tea", "good night" and "ta-ta".

Pc Anthony Holliday feared Cocky might have been stolen to order. He said: "The thief or thieves seem to have known what they were after. After getting into the house they went straight for the bird cage, removed the padlock, and stole the bird." A police spokesman confirmed it was the only thing that was stolen in the burglary.

Ah, Mr. Proctor, my heart aches for you and your little friend. May he find his way to you again soon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Time To Read

I found this lovely blog, Lotus Reads, in the "Blogs of Note" section, a place that has some interesting writing, but not the kind of thing I'd bookmark or check back with. This one, though, and all of its linked blogs and literary reviews, is, in contrast, a kindred spirit. How do all of these people out there find time to read, write so articulately, and make their blogs so beautiful ? I find myself, at least lately, barely able to read the people who are wriiting about reading. How to get any real reading done ? From this blog alone, I've already found a long list of books I'd like to spend time with. This must be my most inelegant post to date. Very tired. Too many books, too little espresso, even less time...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Now, This Was Fun

Is this a meme ? I suppose it is. I found this on Steph's A Commonplace Book:
"DIRECTIONS: Type your name and the word NEEDS in quotes (e.g., "John Needs") into Google and see what comes up." For hers, click the link here.
Here are mine, all of the first page search results. They're almost poetic. Few of them are true (of me, anyway, but I suppose numbers 2-4 could always come in handy:

Cordelia needs girls/models
Cordelia needs a touch of luck
Cordelia needs omnipotent control
Cordelia needs more than $1400
Cordelia needs a home
Cordelia needs closure
Cordelia needs 2 stop getting drunk
Cordelia needs to hear and Fred hangs up
Cordelia needs someone to treat her fair

Thanks, Steph ! That was fun !

Addendum: Not content to leave well enough alone two seconds after posting this, I decided to find out what "Cordelia doesn't need." Remarkably, only one page of search results was returned, but there's almost a theme here, if we forget about the incongruity of the last one:

Cordelia doesn’t need the gods
Cordelia doesn’t need to show it off
Cordelia doesn’t need to save her soul
Cordelia doesn’t need enemies
Cordelia doesn’t need him anymore
Cordelia doesn’t need me to be strong
Cordelia doesn’t need diapers

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What's On The Pod

I'm a bit under the weather (literally, too: waiting for rain to turn to pretty white snow), so here is what is currently on the pod, which is in turn coddled by some very nice speakers:

You can click on the image to blow it up. I'm undecided about the REM, but it does seem to fit. I'm enjoying the list, anyway.
Here's the itunes/imix link, which makes a prettier cover, but won't let me copy it.
I updated all of my links last night, but still hope that the Marmot and Underground Ozarks will make a comeback. So they're still here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Res Novae, Urbes Pro Populo (New Things, Cities for the People)

Repurposing Urbanism:
I've been enjoying The Where Blog while on my extended blogging hiatus (the hiatus applied mostly to writing, not reading), a blog that I think brings together ideas about the new,or as I like to think of it, the "repurposed" urbanism, one that grapples with the reality of surburbs that have no urban hub ---they are housing developments built out on what was farmland---, megamalls, and all things decidely non-urban. I often think, especially when I read the blogs of our cycling academics (see sidebar), that many of us envision an urban infrastructure of sorts for transportation (or should I say locomotion ? walking, cycling, public transport), local shopping, and community,while hanging onto gardens, yards, and less costly square footage. It's this complex and potent brew that seems to thrive in our imaginations and our websites, something post- the urban-suburban, beyond the town and country binaries that simply keep swapping out elements from each other to build a better version of what they already are (vs. transforming them all together). The Where Blog keeps track of many other fine blogs, many expert at paying attention to things we ought to notice (or to tell us to give them more than a passing shrug of the shoulders). Here is one such analysis, reminding me of John B's exercise over at Blog Meridian, trying to get his students to grasp the importance of describing ordinary things. Well, here you go:

from a blog called Pasta and Vinegar, quoting a book by someone named Rob van Kronenburg:
“Just think back a decade or so. Did you not see cars on pavements and guys (mostly) trying to fix them? Where are they now? They are in professional garages as they all run on software. The guys cannot fix that. Now extrapolate this to your home, the streets you walk and drive on, the cities you roam, the offices in which you work. Can you imagine they would one day simply not function? Not open, close, give heat, air…

As citizens will at some point soon no longer be aware of what we have lost in terms of personal agency. We will get very afraid of any kind of action, and probably also the very notion of change, innovation - resisting anything that will look like a drawback, like losing something, losing functionalities, connectivities, the very stuff that they think is what makes us human.
If as a citizen you can no longer fix your own car – which is a quite recent phenomenon - because it is software driven, you have lost more then your ability to fix your own car, you have lost the very belief in a situation in which there are no professional garages, no just in time logistics, no independent mechanics, no small initiatives. (…) Any change in the background, in the axioms that make up the environment has tremendous consequences on the level of agency of citizens. They become helpless very soon, as they have no clue how to operate what is ‘running in the background’, let alone fix things if they go wrong. As such, Ambient intelligence presumes a totalizing, anti-democratic logic.“

Who's Your Best Friend ?

This is a just in case post, info found via Blog Meridian. Neko Case, alt-country singer extraordinaire, had offered to donate five dollars to an animal rescue organization, Best Friends Animal Society, for every blogger who reposted the link to a free download of a song from her forthcoming album, Middle Cyclone. Now, here's the thing: by the time I'd found my way back into the blogosphere and had caught up to my reading on John's website, the offer had expired (Feb. 3). Yesterday, however, the New York Times magazine had an article on Neko Case and mentioned the post a song/donation project. I know all about real time vs publishing time, but in hopes that the offer will be revived and extended, I'm posting the link here: People Got A Lotta of Nerve.

The free download still works, and I left a query on the blog site.

Of course, you can always just donate to your local animal shelter or rescue group. Believe me, they need anything you can give, and it need not be money: old towels, household cleaning supplies, old blankets, spare cat litter, etc. Just call and ask. Most organizations have a wishlist, and there is bound to be something you can give.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Buttons, Beans, and The Blogosphere's State of Investigative Prowess

My inner etymologist surfaces: the movie Coraline has apparently flooded the internet with questions about the origin of the word for "fear of buttons," koumpounophobia. The biggest question is what is its origin and is it a "real" word or something that Neil Gaiman made up ? It's real: it comes from the modern Greek word for "to button," κουμπούνω, (koumpouno) which comes from the ancient Greek word for "bean" (κύαμος, kuamos), which makes sense, because the ancients didn't have buttons, but some buttons resemble beans, + πονέω (poneo), "to work hard." So you can see where the modern Greek word comes from. Check any modern Greek dictionary, attach "-phobia" to the noun form, and you've got yourself, well, a legitimately rooted word. I wasn't going to write a separate entry, but this got to me, reading the silliness out there. I fear for our nation if people can't do basic research. Goodnight.

Monday, February 09, 2009

It's So Bad, We're Starting to Want to Help People

I read so much, info glutton that I am, I have just spent half an hour trying to retrace my steps to find where I read (but I did read it) that things on Wall Street are now so bad, the article baldly went, that an increase in grad school applications is up, especially in MPA (Masters of Public Administration) programs, aka the gateway to civil service and non-profits. Cynics. Ironic, of course, that the world of high paying sector jobs would crash just as the new social idealism that swept Obama into office has also taken hold. No segue, just links:

The New Service
Idealist.Org/Action Without Borders
The American Red Cross
US Department of State/Jobs (with links to more opportunities)
Organizing for America (MyBarackObama.Com)

My we all find a way.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Not Shuttered For Good

I wondered if I'd be able to start up again without remarking, or rather lamenting, how much I'd let go unsaid, but not unthought, in between. Too many long days at---- what to call it besides "the job" or "the option," as I've been doing ? Every morning, where I am now, and it has been frigid, I walk past a little greenhouse appended onto the back of a larger building. Inside, beautiful cacti and succulents fill the glass enclosure with their climbing greenery, and I love to look at them. Their safety reminds me of my own luck. Housed in their proper environment, they thrive, they produce, they breathe. It is not as if I have need to grasp the fact that I was unhappy before; I think that was obvious, in many ways, the catalyst for this blog. Now, once again, too late in the evening to give this its due, I will try to get at something complicated. I had not led a charmed life before I came to that point that I have called "exile" in this blog, but I had led a fairly consistent professional one, no scratch that--- I had had a consistent professional identity. Even I did not know how much I needed it, or how, when outside of it, how difficult the ideas and ideals that I had often drawn upon and assumed I lived, such as Berry's "Be joyful though you have considered all the facts." would find their limit. I knew, these past few years, that I had hit up against a new kind of limit, one where the facts, considered, vanquished a good portion of joy, taxed and even defeated my ability to be playful and creative, because, frankly, the intellectual and social life I had had, vanished behind me. And, after it seemed that that kind of life was gone for good, I was able to step back into it again, but picture the action movie where the parking garage door may clamp down before the protagonist can get the car through, the air running out before the astronaut can back in the airlock, Jack Bauer looking for the truth, and then you will have a sense of how singular, narrow, and unlikely the chance that this would happen. There were, you know, interviews and such, and I remember at one point, after learning that I had been recommended to go up the next level, lying in bed, and literally picturing a barred gate swinging open onto a green field, and willing myself away from the cliché and the hope all at once, knowing that I just could not continue doing what I had been doing. And now I am back in a world I know, and, unfortunately for this blog, so fully engaged with it that I let many posts written in my head slide by with a cup of tea at the end of the day or evening. I had a few, including what I was going to ominously title "The Dead Guy's Desk," which is my desk. I can't call the person who used it before my predecessor in any real sense, and, worse, he is only metaphorically dead. Maybe I will still post it, in some form: a discussion of what happens when your phone number and desk were previously assigned to someone who came to a controversial end. And so many thoughts on Obama and the inauguration. But all that will have to wait. I wanted to open back up again, so to speak. I'm even set to travel again soon. And that's the news from Greenhouse City. Ah, there you go: perfect, we'll keep it at that: I work in Greenhouse City. Good Night.