Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Patience Is a Virtue!

When I began teaching seventh grade at the Aurora Middle School in the fall of 1966, one of my great young colleagues was Judy Thornton. Her husband, Pete, was the mailman in Aurora. And they had two great kids, both of whom I later taught. (Judy left teaching when her children arrived--did some schoolbus-driving for years thereafter.) She was, as I said, a wonderful colleague--a dear friend.

Judy and I shared the seventh graders that 1966-67 school year. We taught what was called "Core" (American history plus English), and we each also had a reading class. Our classes were large--about 40 students per. I thought this was normal. Soldiered on ...

Anyway, Judy was famous in her classes for many things--but one was declaring to them, "Patience is a virtue!"

That spring of 1967 I put on a show with some kids, and we had a performance for the entire school (grades 5-8), and at one point one of the characters declares in a stentorian voice: "Patience is a virtue!" The audience went nuts. Biggest reaction of the entire show.

Anyway, in recent weeks it's been Judy's voice and adage that have kept me from going through the roof. (I've written about this before; that's okay; bear with me; patience is a virtue.)

Quicken--which I've used for about twenty years--since it was a MS-DOS program--has lately been "under new ownership," and things are not good. For example, I paid $50 (a bit more) for access to their "Premium Support" phone number, which, of course, is invariably busy. It's been busy all morning today. I'm taking it ... well.

And their sister program, Quicken Bill Pay (which I have also used for a couple of decades), is, for me, totally screwed up. When I get through to an agent, he or she shuffles me here and there until I lose the connection.

I take deep breaths. Remind myself that I'm a ... "mature adult." Vow to try again tomorrow. And urge myself to remember that somewhere Judy Thornton will somehow know if I "lose it," and she'll cry into the night: "I told you, Dan! Patience is a virtue!"

And so it is. And so I need it--in vast quantities--dealing with Quicken and Quicken Bill Pay.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Danny Dumb, No. 1

I'm starting a new little series today--an occasional series (very occasional, I hope) about those moments in my life when I realize something I should have known all along--or should have noticed right away. But didn't.

I thought about calling it "Danny Duh," a name that's probably a (tiny) bit more flattering than "Danny Dumb." But this is an age of accuracy. No fake news here! So we'll go with "Dumb."

So here we go on what is really quite a Nerdy Realization I had yesterday morning.

Joyce and I were driving over to Panera--our Sunday morning routine for many years (from there we go grocery shopping: the Acme is only yards away). We like to go via a road that was cut through only a few years ago, a road that now has a city park (and cops waiting to catch those exceeding 25 mph--not I!).

It's a lovely little road, curving through little stands of trees, granting us views of the railway, etc. We've seen wild turkeys and deer there. We love it.

And one of my routines on that stretch of road is to recite for Joyce the latest poem I've been memorizing. And this week it was "Asides," a short poem I memorized in honor of  poet Richard Wilbur, who died on October 14 this year; he was 96.  (I've pasted the entire text below.) I had already recited it previously for her, stumbling and bumbling along in the early days of "knowing" it. But on Sunday morning, I was smooth ... confident ... eloquent (well, Wilbur was).

And when I finished it, I had a Danny Dumb Moment.

"Joyce," I said, "I think that entire poem is a single sentence!"

I'd not noticed.

I raced through it again ... yes, a single sentence holds three stanzas, each of which rhymes its first and fourth lines.

And as we were pulling up near Panera, I had another Danny Dumb Moment: Wilbur's use of "long sentence" in the second line of the first stanza has yet another meaning now: It's not just the long darkness of fall and winter; it's the "long sentence" of the poem itself.

I know that poets do this now and then--an entire poem in a single sentence. One of the ones I can recall right now is Robert Frost's "The Silken Tent" (also pasted below--one I've also memorized), an even trickier achievement: It's a Shakespearean sonnet: fourteen lines, iambic pentameter, rhyming abab cdcd efef gg. And still a single sentence.

Still, Wilbur's is something, He allowed himself only three feet per line (approx. six syllables), not the five feet (ten syllables) that Frost used to work himself toward his rhymes.

Anyway, memorizing famous poems has conferred upon me any number of Danny Dumb moments--things that the process of memorizing has allowed me to notice--things I had not noticed during the countless times I'd read the poem--even taught the poem.

Asides, by Richard Wilbur

Though the season's begun to speak
Its long sentence of darkness,
The upswept boughs of the larch
Bristle with gold for a week,

And then there is only the willow
To make bright interjection,
Its drooping branches decked
With thin leaves, curved and yellow,

Till winter, loosening these
With a first flurry and bluster,
Shall scatter across the snow-crust

Their dropped parentheses.

The Silken Tent, by Robert Frost

She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To every thing on earth the compass round,
And only by one's going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday Sundries, 163

1. AOTW: A tie this week--and both from the health club at the same moment. Danny at his locker. Two young men (20s or so) have their toiletries spread out along the entire length of the bench we're all supposed to share. (By the way, I didn't know men used so many products!) I had to "get by" without the bench--smoldering silently, of course (Wimpy Old Guy), feeling good only in that I knew I now had my AOTWs.

2. I'm starting a new little series here, an occasional series (I hope it will be very occasional--the reason soon apparent to you); I'm calling it "Danny Dumb," and it will deal with those moments when I realize something I should have noticed from the git-go. Those Duh! moments, in other words. I've got one for tomorrow ...

3. I finished just one book this week (not counting the one I reviewed for Kirkus Reviews: As I've said here before, I ain't allowed to say what they are).

     - The latest novel by Jerome Charyn--Winter Warning (2017)--features a recurring character in his work, Isaac Sidel, a former cop and mayor who has now, in a somewhat complicated fashion, become the POTUS. That's right; the president of the United States. Enemies surround him--even in the White House (especially in the White House, it seems).

People are wagering on how long he will remain not just in office but alive (contracts are out on him). He finds some people who are somewhat (probably) loyal to him--including his Marine 1 pilot and a few others--and they are able to save his life and, oddly, send his popularity skyrocketing because of an unusual act of physical courage. (I think of that old Harrison-Ford-as-president film, Air Force One--not that dramatic--but pretty courageous, that's for sure, what Sidel does.)

I began reading Charyn a long, long time ago, then sort of drifted away, and in recent years have drifted back. He recently wrote a novel about Emily Dickinson (then a nonfiction book about her)--both of which I liked. And now this.

The text is full of literary allusions--nothing that's too obscure (or that emanates that odor that says Look what I know!), but there's a sly one to E. E. Cummings' "Buffalo Bill 's") and to Waiting for Godot, for example. And a mention of meeting Saul Bellow.

And, as usual in a Charyn novel, there are some sentences that just stop you (me!) cold; here's one.

  • "'We all dream of murder,' Isaac said. 'That's built into our fabric'" (100).
And there's also an alright instead of all right. I think We Fussy Ones have lost this spelling battle ...

4. Joyce and I finished streaming all the available episodes of Shetland (which we both loved, loved, loved) and, scouting for another one, we settled on The Commander (also BBC) but quickly tired of it. Will try something else ...

5. Last night--despite reading some bad reviews (e.g., the New York Times)--Joyce and went over to Kent to see The Snowman, based on the novel by one of my favorite thriller-novelists (Jo Nesbø, a Norwegian).

So ... we were not expecting much, but I had to see it: I'd read the novel--as well as all of Nesbø's others.

And ... we liked it! The photography (all shot in Norway, I read) was gorgeous; the actors were fine; the story moved along well. (Link to film trailer.)

Yes, there were some "issues": our psycho killer spent a lot of time making snowmen (when did he find the time?); film-goers who know nothing of the novel will probably be a bit confused here and there, especially about the background/situation of Det. Harry Hole; we're asked--once again!-- to believe that although our hero (played by Michael Fassbender) is a drunk and in some kind of psychological disintegration, when he takes his shirt off, he looks as if he's just spent six years at the health club, six hours a day. Ripped!

BTW: Val Kilmer is really hard to recognize now.

6. On Friday night, Joyce and I drove down to the Hanna Theater in Cleveland to see A Midsummer Night's Dream, a production of the Great Lakes Theater Festival. I was not looking forward to it, to tell you the truth. I was in a gloomy mood (who knows why?), I've seen this play a gazillion times, it was a dreary evening (it began to rain on us almost as soon as we got in the car). And then, when we hit I-271 north, a parking lot. Very little movement. Although we left an hour early (for the 7:30 curtain), we slipped into our seats only seconds before it all started ... and I mean seconds.

But ... guess what? It was good. Very good. Strong cast, major to minor. Simple staging (very Shakespearean!). Some playful modernization in the business (some cell phone foolishness). Deep respect for the script. And a naughty, naughty, naughty "Pyramus and Thisbe" (which is what we all love, eh?).

I was in a much better mood driving home. And I-271 south was free-flowing. And--as is always the case after seeing a Bard play--I felt supremely virtuous (I saw Shakespeare tonight ... what did you do?) and humbled. How did that dude know all that in the 1590s?!!?!

Oh, and as I wrote yesterday, I was so taken this time with Theseus' speech about the lunatic, the lover, and the poet that I'm going to memorize the damn thing!

7. Final word--a word I liked this week from my various online word-of-the-day providers ...

     - from dictionary.com (an appropriate seasonal word!)

psychomancy (noun):  occult communication between souls or with spirits.
Citations for psychomancy
" ... There is something, though, that is rather queer, but it belongs to psychomancy rather than psychology, as I understand it." "Ah!" I said. "What is that queer something?" "Being visibly present when absent. It has not happened often, but it has happened that I have seen Marion in my loft when she was really somewhere else and not when I had willed her or wished her to be there."
William Dean Howells, Questionable Shapes, 1903
To one who has an adequate knowledge of the laws of electricity and magnetism, it is more than amusing to see with what pedantic gravity these latter philomaths descant upon electricity and magnetism, contorting and butchering their established laws all the while, to explain some vile juggle, or unravel the psychomancy of rappers and tippers ...
Charles G. Page, Psychomancy: Spirit-Rappings and Table-Tippings Exposed, 1853

Origin of psychomancy
Psychomancy is a less common euphemistic synonym of the far more sinister necromancy. The first element, psycho-, familiar from English psychiatry and psychology, is a combining form from the Greek noun psȳchḗ “breath, soul, spirit, ghost.” Psȳchḗ is also the name of a butterfly, which inspired the English poet and critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) to write a short poem, “Psyche,” about the double meaning “soul” and “butterfly.” The element -mancy ultimately derives from Greek manteía “divination,” a derivative of mántis “diviner, soothsayer, prophet,” and also “praying mantis (the predatory insect).” Psychomancy entered English in the 16th century.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

This Memorizing Stuff ...

... is getting out of hand. I feel like some kind of addict now--snorting new literary passages when no one's looking ... hoping no one will notice. (Actually, virtually no one does notice, except for Joyce, to whom I recite them once the passage is (sort of) in my head.)

It wasn't all that long ago that I was swaggering around, chest out, because I'd memorized 100 pieces. In fact, I so was full of myself that I gave a PowerPoint talk at Western Reserve Academy (where I was teaching at the time). November 8, 2010. Almost exactly seven years ago. (I've pasted the text of that talk below.)

I thought I could quit then. A hundred seemed just fine.

But then I snorted another--and another--and then I reached two hundred. And swaggered around, chest out--though I couldn't talk at WRA about it: I was retired by then.

I thought I could quit then. Two hundred seemed just fine.

And then I snorted another--and another ...

I'm now at two hundred and fifteen.

I just can't stop. Since I reached 200, I thought, Well, hell, I don't know anything by Milton. (So I learned one.)  And I should learn one by William Blake. (So I learned one.) And so it went.

And then I reached 213--and I don't like the number 13 (I did a blog post about it once upon a time--October 6, 2012--link to it.) So I could just not stop there, so I learned those two little guys by William Carlos Williams ("The Red Wheelbarrow" and "This Is Just to Say").

Oh, and a huge one I learned recently was not even my fault! On Facebook, Joyce posted a Father's Day poem by E. E. Cummings ("My Father Moved Through Dooms of Love")--probably the hardest one I've ever learned--took weeks. (Link to poem.) And, after learning that one ...

... I swaggered around, chest out ...

But then I saw one by Robert Louis Stevenson I liked (I snorted it). (As I've written here before, rehearsal time has become an ... issue. But I'll not get into that right now.)

I once again deceived myself, thinking I could quit at 215--a nice chunk of a number.

But just last night we went down to the Hanna Theater in Cleveland to see A Midsummer Night's Dream (for the gazillionth time). I loved it (more in blog tomorrow). And when Theseus delivered his speech about "the lunatic, the lover, and the poet," I thought, You know, I've always wanted to memorize that one.

I just now printed it out. And will commence snorting, very soon ...

Daniel Dyer
WRA Chapel/Morning Meeting
8 November 2010

By Heart
              The older you get, the more stuff happens.  And most of it, believe me, ain’t all that good.  Yes, the road of later life has detours, potholes, long empty boring stretches, marauding outlaws, bridges out, road-kill (fresh and otherwise), roaming ravenous beasts named Age and Illness, Loss and Dotage.  It’s just … AWESOME!
              But every now and then I pass on this disintegrating road an odd, amusing milestone … and I want to tell you a story about one of them.  It involves that heart up there on the screen—and that most beloved homework task of all: memorizing poems.
              I still remember the first poem I ever memorized, back at in Enid, Oklahoma, at Adams Elementary School, in the early 1950s.  But I can’t repeat that poem here in this historic Chapel.  It was a dirty, nasty, filthy little playground rhyme that started out “Fatty, fatty, two by four” and involved a bathroom door.  My smutty little satanic third-grade friends and I thought it was fall-down funny.  But let’s leave that one back in the Sooner State …
              The first poem I had to memorize in school was “A Visit from St. Nicholas”—a.k.a. “The Night Before Christmas”: [QUOTE]  I’m sure many of you know some of that one.  For an Adams School Christmas Program I recited it for the parents, many of whom—the whole time—cooed like contented pigeons.
              Later, in high school, there were others, but the only one I’m certain I learned then was A. E. Housman’s “When I Was One and Twenty”: When I was one and twenty, / I heard a wise man say, / Give crowns and pounds and guineas / But not your heart away ….”
              But by the time I began teaching in the mid-1960s, memorizing was falling out of favor in schools.  A surprise: For centuries, you see, it had been a standard part of the curriculum.  Students in Shakespeare’s day, for example, memorized vast chunks of literature—in Greek and in Latin.  Books were rare, expensive.  Memorizing took their place.  Learning things by heart.
              And did you know that we can trace that expression—learning by heart—back to the ancient belief that the heart was the seat of memory?  Although biology and neuroscience have taught us otherwise, I still like the idea that we keep what we’ve learned—those things we care about—in our hearts.
              Anyway—because memorizing had become “bad” back in the 1960s, I didn’t ever ask my classes to do it, early on.  But—sometime in the mid-1970s I resurrected the idea, and I’m not even really sure why.  But then I started teaching Shakespeare to my eighth graders over in Aurora, and I decided to have them memorize a bit too.  We read The Taming of the Shrew, and I had them learn one of its famous speeches.  “Well come, my Kate ….”
              And soon I was having students memorize other things, too.  I’d come to believe, you see, that truly educated people have some famous words in their heads.  Not that there’s much call to recite something in its entirety these days.  (It’s not likely that a flight attendant, say, is going to summon you up to the microphone and ask you, mid-flight, to entertain your fellow passengers by reciting all of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: As you know, they’d much rather watch Jackass III-D.)  Still … when you know something—by heart—and when hear or see a mention of it later, something goes abuzz in you—like a tuning fork.  And that buzzing gets nearby neurons a-throbbing, and who knows what that can lead to?  Not that it matters—I just like being both sober and buzzed—don’t you?
              The human mind can memorize a stunning amount of material.  Performers could recite all of The Odyssey from memory.  Shakespeare’s leading actor, Richard Burbage, played a different major character in a different play every day, six days a week.  My dad had a university colleague who each Christmas recited from memory all of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol—nearly 30,000 words!  And some of you may remember Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451?  At the end of that futuristic novel about the government’s burning of all books, we meet characters who are books—people who live in hiding, people who have memorized entire texts so that they will not die out.
              As many of you know, I still require my English III students to memorize a dozen pieces a year, including all of “To be or not to be” and a number of other things by famous American poets like Emerson and Holmes and Longfellow and Dickinson and friends.    
              Well, I’ve always memorized these poems along with my classes.  On the practical side, it makes grading their quizzes much quicker, but I soon discovered that I just plain enjoyed knowing those poems.  I started putting them on little cards, carrying them around in my pockets and backpack to glance at whenever.  I started learning other poems, too—not just the ones I gave my students.  Among them were ones with special significance to me—like Robert Louis Stevenson’s “My Shadow,” a poem I remember my grandmother reciting to me more than sixty years ago.
              And so my pile of cards started to grow.  And because I knew I would forget them if I didn’t review them—you retain in memory only those things you want to keep there, the things you work to keep there—I started reciting them in my head several times a week—when I was walking somewhere, or riding the exercise bike, or even driving—hey, it’s safer than texting!
              And then last summer I started to wonder how many I’d learned.  I put all the cards together and counted them.  There were about ninety of them.  Ninety!  I couldn’t believe it.  I was sort of proud of myself, then decided: I wanna know 100.  There’s something about a milestone like that, isn’t there?  A hundred just sounds a lot better than ninety.  Even though it’s not.
              So I went through anthologies looking for poems I really liked—or ones that meant something to me—picked out ten more, started learning them.  And a couple of weeks ago, I finished #100—a couple of those shorter speeches from Hamlet: the one that has “what a piece of work is a man,” the one with “‘tis now the very witching time of night,” the one with “there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.”  Here’s a list of all of them …
              But when I reached one hundred, I didn’t know quite how to celebrate.  What do I do?  Buy a helium balloon out at Acme?  Post the news on Facebook?  Shoot some video and upload it to YouTube?  Jump on Twitter and Tweet about it?   Rent an airplane to sky-write over Hudson: DYER REACHES 100!  And then … an epiphany: I’ll write a poem about it!  And I’ll make the whole school sit there and listen to it!  Awesome!
              So here goes … and—no!—I don’t know it by heart!
Oh, you can have your Londons,
Your Parises, your Romes,
And you can have your Hudsons, too,
'Cuz I got all them poems!

Yeah, some of them are sorta short,
But some: enormous tomes—
And I have got a hundred now,
A hundred freakin’ poems.

Now you might think it’s awfully hard
To cram inside your domes
So many lines, so many rhymes,
So many famous poems.

But it doesn’t take an Einstein—
Require a Sherlock Holmes—
It takes no Stephen Hawking
To learn a hundred poems.

(If Dyer can do it, that old man,
Then you can do it, Homes—
Just get a book, and take a look,
And pick some purty poems!)

No, it’s no harder than it is
To drink a drink that foams—
All you need it to decide:
“I wanna learn some poems!”

You copy/paste one on a card—
A sort of mobile home—
You take it with you everywhere,
Your precious little poem.

And soon … like we have Hudson, and
Alaska has its Nome,
And Canada its Winnipeg,
You have got your poem!
You then take newer cards along
Wherever your heart roams,
And soon, before you know it,
You’ve got one hundred poems!

Now that I’ve got that hundred,
Perhaps you think I’m done?
But I have got another card—
It’s time for one-oh-one!

Yes, there are strange diseases, and
Some stranger sick syndromes,
And I still suffer from the worst—
Memorizing poems!

But there’s a simple message that
I wish here to impart:
That what you’ve truly learned in life
Lies anchored in your heart.

The ancients knew it; I have learned it—
One of life’s best guides:
An educated mind and heart:
True wisdom there resides.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Last Ride of the Year?

my 1995 Schwinn, right now,
waiting for the final ride of the year
I've got a feeling that this afternoon I will be taking my last bike ride of the season. The weather looks decent--and my weather apps say it will become somewhat indecent in the ensuing days. No surprise: It's almost November in northeastern Ohio.

I haven't ridden as much this year as I have in previous years. Not sure why. But a week or so ago, when we were having all that warm weather around here, I started up again, rode pretty much every day, wondering all the while why I had stopped doing so.

I first learned to "stay up" on a bike back in the early 1950s in Amarillo, Tex., where we lived for a couple of years during the Korean War (Dad had been called back to active duty, was stationed at Amarillo Air Force Base).

I remember the thrill of staying up that first time, but I also remember that I'd neglected to learn how to stop and get off the bike. Oops. But I steered into the most lush lawn I could find (not easy to find in the Texas panhandle), slowed, crash-landed. I eventually figured out how to slow, stop, dismount without a crash. Quick learner, I!

Between 2001-2011, when I was teaching at Western Reserve Academy--a few blocks from our house--I routinely rode back and forth to school. I was part-time and so took the trip several times during the day. The bike was part of my ... persona. (I don't know why, but I've never liked that word--used it only reluctantly here.)

When I retired (spring 2011), I still rode pretty much every decent day, spring through fall, from our house down to Starbucks. It's not a totally dangerous route. A bit of it I can do on a bike path. But I've learned that to live I need to obey one very basic rule: Look out for motor vehicles because they are not looking out for you. So ... I assume that every car, truck, and whatever does not see me. And, so far, I've remained alive. (Don't want to speak too soon: I'm riding this afternoon!)

When the fall weather makes its final turn into darkness and damp and yuck each year, I put my bike in the basement for the winter--always a sad time. Will I get to bring it up again? My health (as regular visitors here know) is now iffy, to say the least; I will turn 73 next month. I've exceeded my three-score-and-ten.

Psalms is rather blunt about that number, by the way. Here it is (King James Version):

Psalm 90:10 King James Version

10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Well, I'm not too sure I'm going to be flying away--maybe a down elevator is more accurate? But I like to think I'll roll away, on my bike, and that I will not crash-land.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

And just when ...

And just when I got my Quicken Bill Pay working again yesterday (oh, I am so smart! so agile! so computer-savvy!), I--yesterday--upgraded to Quicken 2018 (I upgrade every damn year), and ... guess what? ... Bill Pay no longer works.

Back on the Help Line (I considered, then rejected, the Suicide Hot Line), where I learned that because of the recent corporate change (Intuit no longer has Quicken, etc.), that I needed to set up a new Quicken Bill Pay account--see how that goes.

As of this moment? Not going well.

I've supplied a bunch of answers online--have set the thing up--but have to wait, so I read, a couple of days for them to check out my bank account, etc.

I can hardly wait.

Meanwhile, I sit here, reflecting about how easy computers have made our lives. Just think of the ways ... [PAUSE TO THINK]. Yeah, you're right: They haven't made our lives easier. Just more complicated. Frustrating.

Yeah, sure, some things are very helpful (like reading old books online instead of having to go to distant libraries--or wait for Interlibrary Loan), but I think (not counting my health!) that a large percentage of the frustration in my life is digital. There's always something, you know?

And so I am, once again, in Wait Mode. Over the next few days I'll discover if Bill Pay will work. Or not. Whether I'll be back on the Help Line--or in the line at the hardware to buy a nice thick piece of rope.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

My Regime of Regimen

Okay, throughout my (sentient) life I've used these two words--regime and regimen--in separate situations.
  • I've read about the regime of Elizabeth I.
  • I follow a workout regimen.
But I've noticed in my reading that other people use regime in the workout sentence I just wrote.

So ... as Bugs Bunny once asked--as Kenan Thompson sometimes sings on SNL--What up with that?" (Link to an SNL video.)

All right, see below what Merriam-Webster says about each word. Seems they are synonyms, at least in that meaning of a systematic plan.

I did a little further checking in the OED. And that sturdy source has this wee note of explanation: Regimen rather than regime is now the usual word in the United States and in Med.; in British English regime is more usual. The OED is referring to the definition of routine or  regulation of aspects of life.

So ... it seems I am, indeed, an American!

I just entered "regimen or regime?" in Google and discovered that most grammar-gurus agree that they are synonyms. So there you go ...

We can now answer Kenan Thompson's "What's up ...?" with a good answer!
  • regime
  • a :  regimen 1
    b :  a regular pattern of occurrence or action (as of seasonal rainfall)
    a :  a method of ruling or management :  a manner of administration
    b :  a form of government or administration
    <totalitarian regime>
    specifically :  a governmental or social system
    <Nazi regime>
    c :  the period during which a regime prevails
    :  the condition of a river with respect to the rate of its flow as measured by the volume of water passing different cross sections in a given time
    :  a fruiting cluster of the African oil palm
  • regimen
    a :  a systematic plan (as of diet, therapeutic and sanitary measures, and medication) designed to improve and maintain the health of a patient or to control a particular ailment
    b :  a regulation or treatment intended to benefit by gradual operation
    :  governing, government, rule, administration
    :  government 5a
    :  the characteristic behavior or orderly procedure of a natural phenomenon or process (as of a river or a glacier)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pride goeth before ...


We don't always know what we think we do, do we?

Just now, for example, I was going to write "pride goeth before a fall"--a clause I've known since boyhood and was spending every Sunday (morning and often evening) in churches that used the King James Version.

Only I didn't know what I thought I did.

I just got online--the Bible Gateway, a site where you can search Bible sites (and versions)--and discovered that the quotation is from Proverbs 16:18, and its full (KJV) verse is this:

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Well, it's fall right now, and I'm sure that if I write about what I want to write about that I will consequently experience either "destruction" or "a fall" (of a different sort).

But here goes ...

I've been having horrible trouble with Quicken Bill Pay, an online bill-pay (duh) service I've been using for years. Somehow, it all got messed up (surely I was not at fault?!!?), and I have spent endless hours on Hold or talking with people who don't really understand what I'm trying to tell them (and are probably thinking: This dude is demented!). I have fussed with the Quicken settings myself, over and over and over again.

So--frustrated--I started ending my Quicken Bill Pay association and began paying my online bills via our own bank.

Which is fine--except it's slower. I have to get online with the bank--and then I have to remember that I've paid it that way so I can record it in Quicken. However, Bill Pay allows me to pay bills right from my Quicken screen. One-stop shopping ... uh, one-stop bill-paying.

So ... on and on I fussed with it. Changing passwords, starting over, uttering grievous execrations ...

And just now ... it worked! I promptly bragged to Joyce; she asked me what I'd done; I told her the truth: I don't know.

Anyway, I'm having trouble typing right now because I have fingers crossed on both hands--superstition reigns with computers! (At least in our house.)

And, as I said, I don't really want to brag--for a couple of reasons: (1) it might not work later today--or tomorrow; (2) I'm not quite ready for "destruction," for a "fall." They're coming soon enough ...


16 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.

2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.

3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

4 The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.

7 When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.

9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

10 A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.

11 A just weight and balance are the Lord's: all the weights of the bag are his work.

12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.

13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right.

14 The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.

15 In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.

16 How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.

18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

19 Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

20 He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.

21 The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.

22 Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly.

23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.

24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

26 He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him.

27 An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.

28 A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.

30 He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.

31 The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.

32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Dreary Task

one of the French doors in front
My Weather Channel app told me that today the weather was going to turn (my word). Rain. Cooling off. And, of course, ever more dark and dreary and depressing. (Weather Channel did not exactly say that, but, you know ...)

So yesterday I decided I'd remove the screen doors and install the storm doors.

It was a lovely day. Mid-70s and sunny. If you closed your eyes (so you couldn't see the leaves all over the ground), you would have thought it was still summer.


We have four doors and two floor-to-ceiling French-door windows (in front) that need changing. The front and side doors are easy: twist a couple of thingies on the door, and the insert (screen or glass, depending on the season) is free; remove it; replace it with--well, with screen or glass. Takes mere minutes.

There are two doors on our back screened porch that are a bit more difficult: One leads from the kitchen to the porch; the other, to the outside and the back yard. Both require a screwdriver, perhaps a wee hammer, and an abundant supply of curse words.

Yesterday, though (why? why? why?), the inserts came out easily, went in easily. (Could I be getting good at this? Naw ...)

And then the screens/storms for the two French doors in front. First of all--they are big; second, they are freakin' heavy (especially the glass inserts). But--hey!--why go to the health club every day if you can't even carry a damn glass insert from the garage to the front of the house, eh?

So, I lugged those suckers out to the front porch, easily removed the screens, felt a surge of self-confidence (which soon morphed into self-delusion and -loathing). The glass inserts went in only reluctantly, as if they were mirrors of my own reluctance to do this job--of my own dread at the prospect of another long winter in northeastern Ohio.

Joyce helped me. Kept my profanity (somewhat) under control.

And, together, we did it. She Windexed the glass while I lugged the (lighter) inserts to the garage, where they will live until Hope returns.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday Sundries, 162

1. AOTW: Health club. Locker room. Danny is by his locker, preparing to strip for the shower. Nearby--a bench (about 8 feet long). In comes the AOTW. Chooses a locker right near Danny. Spreads all his things out the entire length of the bench. (No room for Danny's things.) Makes no eye contact. Is too big to punch. But you're never too big for the AOTW.

2. Last night Joyce and I drove to Kent to see Blade Runner 2049, which I've both wanted and not wanted to see. I loved the original Blade Runner in 1982 (I was not yet 40!), saw it with Joyce and my dear former student John Mlinek down at the theater on Shaker Square. At the time I thought it was the best film I'd ever seen. So, as I say, there was some ambivalence about going to see the new one.

But when I saw that Ridley Scott was involved (he directed the original), that sealed the deal--and it didn't hurt that Ryan Gosling was in it (we both like him a lot).

Here's what I was afraid of: What I'd liked about the original was its talkiness--lots of dialogue, lots of chat about what a human being is. (And, yes, the special effects were dazzling.) And I was afraid, this time, that it would be all boom-boom-boom-BOOM the way so many films are now.

Link to trailer.

And, yes, there was some of that (not all that much for a film way over two hours long)--but mostly it was talk and suspense and more debate about what it means to be a human being--not all that bad a debate to be having in These Dark Days.

Joyce and I both loved it.

And, sure, we could (and did) cavil about some things, but, for the most part, we were both very (gratefully) surprised. It retained the heart of the original.

3. I finished two books this week ...

     - The first was Housman Country: Into the Heart of England (2017) by Peter Parker (no, not that one), a book I've been picking away at for a bit. I've memorized a few poems by A. E. Housman (1859-1936)--in fact, one of the first I ever had to memorize in school was his "When I Was One and Twenty" from his collection A Shropshire Lad (1896) (link to poem), and I've memorized a few others from that volume. (Parker includes all the poems in the back of his book.)

Parker's is a work of astounding scholarship. He tells us (among other things) about Housman's life (he taught classics at University College London), about the publication of Shropshire (and his only other one--Last Poems, 1922), about Shropshire itself (Housman never lived there), about the enduring influence of the poems on other writers, on our ideas about the countryside and country life, on musical composers, on artists, and, most powerfully, on generations of readers in the U. K. It was enormously popular, was Shropshire, and WW I soldiers carried it with them--as did their sons in WW II.

The book dazzled me. Just an amazing piece of work.

     - The second was the first novel (The Invisible Circus, 1995), by Jennifer Egan, whose complete works (not that many) I've begun to read, in order of publication, because of the phenomenal reception of her new novel, Manhattan Beach (which I've bought but will not read until I finish the earlier ones).

Invisible Circus is a novel about a traumatized young woman, Phoebe, who has lost both her father (illness) and her older sister, Faith (whom Phoebe idolized), to suicide in a small Italian coastal town. Phoebe is wandering through her world, messed up, and she abruptly decides to go to Europe to retrace her sister's steps--and to go to the town where she leapt into the sea.

Well, along the way she hooks up (in more ways than one) with her sis's former boyfriend (nickname: Wolf), who is engaged to someone else (they're living in Germany), but he heads off with Phoebe to protect her on her journey. Well, "protect" may be a bit generous!

Anyway, by novel's end they arrive at the little coastal town, and ... ain't tellin' no more!

By the way, a little thrill for me on page 30: "After dinner they carried bowls of Häagen-Dasz upstairs to her mother's giant bed. A rerun of The Rockford Files was on. True to form, Jim Rockford fell in love with the woman he was trying to protect and his old dad was threatened by thugs outside the silver trailer."  (Yes, as some of you know, I'm a Rockford Freak.)

Anyway, I enjoyed reading this novel. Intense. Painful. But relies a bit on coincidence--almost like a Victorian novel. Still ...

4. Final word--a word I liked this week from one of my various online word-of-the-day providers:

     - from the Oxford English Dictionary

dinlo, n. and adj.

Forms:  18– dinlo, 19– dinilo, 19– dinlow.
Origin: A borrowing from Romani. Etymon: Romani dinilō.
Etymology: < Romani dinilō foolish, stupid (also as noun in sense ‘fool’), of uncertain origin
In Romany usage and slang (Eng. regional (south-east.)).

 A. n.   A foolish or half-witted person; an idiot.

1873   H. Smith Tent Life with Eng. Gipsies in Norway xxxvi. 425   Ambrose can talk, can't he? The mumply dinlo!
1956   D. Reeve in Countryman Summer 266   Ain't that the unbelievingest child in the world? You brazen dinilo, I'm a-gittin' an old stick now an' I'll stripe you till you'm dead.
1997   Pamela & Tommy Lee's Secret Video in uk.rec.sheds (Usenet newsgroup) 27 Aug.   I'm a right old dinlo.
2009   @666hammerette 10 Mar. in twitter.com (O.E.D. Archive)    Can u believe that 5 weeks ago some dinlow pinched my grey rubbish bin!!!
2012   R. Penfold Posy Wild Flowers vi. 87   I understand how hard it is to learn anything if your teacher is impatient and he regards you as a ‘dinlo’.
(Hide quotations)

 B. adj.  Esp. of a person: foolish, idiotic; daft.

1907   Jrnl. Gypsy Lore Soc. 1 191   Instead of saying grace, he was thanking God for the dinilo gorgios.
1934   W. Starkie Let. in Listener 28 Nov. 916/2   He's only a ‘dinilo gorgio’, brother: he talks like a gorgio—which is the same as talking like a fool.
2011   @JackDiko 5 Aug. in twitter.com (O.E.D. Archive)    Full of dinlo misfits! I'm like Cristiano amongst these fools!

2013   @SpursJodie 27 Mar. in twitter.com (O.E.D. Archive)    Your gonna think its dinlow but it cracks me up.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Flutter, Flutter, Sputter, Sputter, Mutter, Mutter

I'm having One of Those Days.

Things are ... misbehaving ... around here. My Quicken program is not doing what it's supposed to (and I've been on Hold with Tech Support so many times the past few days I feel somewhat incarcerated--or appearing in that Sartre play No Exit where I have to listen to syrupy and sometimes bouncy instrumental music for the rest of my life). I thought I had it all fixed yesterday. And was feeling spiffy and even a tad arrogant.

But it ain't workin' right today. ("Rage, rage against the dying ....")

Another program--Excel--has somehow gotten messed up. I use it for our home library (and we have thousands of books), but lately I've noticed that the authors and titles don't always line up--or the publisher and date and price.

This has not generated in me any pacific feelings. ("Rage, rage ....")

And what's truly annoying: The one common factor in these problems with Quicken and Excel ... is .. Daniel Osborn Dyer.

Not a comforting realization.

Also ... I'm tired.

As I've gotten older and less sturdy medically, I wear out ... fast. The past couple of weeks there have been a more-than-wonted number (and a more-than-wanted number) of responsibilities--things I just must do. Mixed in are some things I want to do, sure--like go see (as we did last night with our son and his family) a production of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow down at the Magical Theatre in Barberton, Ohio--about a half-hour away.

So this morning, I find myself fluttering around like a puzzled or even injured bird. Looking for a place to land, to fluff my feathers, to close my eyes, to let Morpheus arrive with some balmy dreams.

But last night, Morpheus arrived with a balmy dream about my falling into the Niagara River just above the Falls. Nice. (I wrote a doggerel about it and posted it on FB this morning--a sure way to lose Friends in a hurry!)

And hanging over all? My own personal sword of Damocles--viz., the knowledge that in only a couple of hours I have to go out to the health club. I dread working out in my Latter Years (it used to be fun--with the added attraction of my feeling virtuous, even superior, afterward).

Now ... it's dreary and hard and depressing.

But I know what it means if I stop going. It means a fall into the Niagara River, just above the Falls.