I shouldn’t be writing a blog today. I’m having one of those weeks. I thought I was done with being overbooked, since I sledgehammered off the corporate shackles from my old middle-management life, but that was a silly idea. As human beings, we can never eliminate stress from our lives entirely. Besides, it’s good for me. If I can make it through the week.
When I first started teaching, the temporary, part-time gig was enticing. A handful of classes, a manageable load of students, and material that I could master. Juggling a schedule with multiple classes has turned out to be less easy. Classes get cancelled; students don’t show up and then too many show up; the door is locked. Stuff happens, like in any job. Continue reading “Drinking from the Firehose…”
My mom would often quote: How do I know what I mean until I see what I say? when we talked about writing around the dinner table. Which we did sometimes, oddball family that we were. That expression immediately came to mind when the lovely Mr. Fandango suggested a blog One-Word Challenge using the word “mean.” I take heart that I did not think about someone performing acts of cruelty, although I cringe slightly that I also didn’t consider anything statistical which, after all, is right up on my blog masthead.
But that’s writing, isn’t it? We don’t really control it.
It turns out E. M. Forster is the source of the original saying, and that he was misquoted. He said “think,” not “mean,” which is a curious distinction.
How can I tell what I think till I see what I say?
–E.M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel
I really wanted to find out that the octopus came from outer space. With eye stalks that rotate, suckers on its multiple arms, and a “brain” located mostly along the tentacles, the octo is curious to some and downright disturbing to others. When I saw the headline: “Alien” octopuses “arrived on earth from space as cryopreserved eggs” I had to trace the theory back to the paper in a legitimate scientific journal which suggested this intriguing occurrence.
Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed by Snopes and the article’s lack of deductive reasoning and relevant facts. Bummer! The ghost of Darwin has, for now, fended off the extraterrestrials but, as an encore, has performed biological magic with starfish.
First, an important grammar lesson. I was taught that the plural of hippopotamus is hippopotami, so that the plural of octopus would be octopi, but my mother was wrong. Octopus is not Latin–like the word radius (plural radii)–but Greek oktṓpous (ὀκτώπους, ‘eight-foot’). So the plural is octopuses (or octopedes) but never octopi.
In the 143 years that the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes have been run, only 13 horses have won all three (9%). Fifty-two horses have won only two of the races; 23 failed the third race. The Belmont is the longest, so a horse that likes the front–like Justify–would have to hold the lead forever after already becoming The Target. Thus, I found myself teary-eyed watching Justify complete the Triple Crown even though we had only just been introduced.
Winning is hard enough when everyone tries equally, but even harder when everyone tries specifically to beat you.
The Lengths That They Must Go
I still remember that other chestnut thoroughbred from 1973. Everyone should watch that Belmont race (thanks, Youtube!). Secretariat was a once-in-a-lifetime horse, although I didn’t know it then. What sticks out is his surge along the back stretch, “Big Red” on his way to winning by 31 lengths. TV cameras couldn’t zoom out as they do now, so as the horse pulls away, the camera has to pan farther and farther right to see the rest of the field. Continue reading “Clean Winning at the Triple Crown”
Author’s Note: Occasionally, readers have wondered whether I might shorten my entries. You have been heard! Starting today, I will alternate my longer essays–roughly every other week–with “Micro” blogs strictly limited to 500 words or less (not counting this author’s note, of course). Usually, I don’t have time to be brief, but today I will make the time. Look for #Micro.
You can’t be a little bit pregnant or a little bit one-legged. However, you can be a little bit tipsy and your things can be a bit worse for wear. Things which become a little bit broken force a choice. Repair or Replace?
You have to try to repair large pieces of furniture, like china cabinets or desks, when the cracks are small. There is always a little piece of plastic which breaks, rendering all unserviceable.
Curse you, cheap plastic! A tiny drop of Super Glue–correctly applied and cured overnight–may save the day.
My spouse has been on a Not! kick lately, as in Repair, Not Replace! She gallantly spent the three-day weekend swapping out a rubber gasket on the bottom of a leaky toilet. The only plumber interested pushed for an upgraded model ($350). Instead, a $20 trip to Home Depot, an hour viewing EZ Plumbing Hacks, two messy forays underneath the tank, and hey presto! toilet repaired! She looks great in sparkly five-inch heels, too! Continue reading “A Little Bit Broken”