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November 2003

friday five

Craig asks:

The biggest advantage to being a teacher is the time off in the summer. Yeah, the annual salary isn’t the best, but I get two friggin’ months off a year! Not to mention two weeks for Christmas, a week for Thanksgiving, Spring Break, and other assorted days off.

If you were paid for two months of not going to work, what are five things you would do with your time off?

This may actually be the first year I get a summer off. I also think that the Diva's day care takes the summer off, so it may be a wash. Regardless, this is what I'd do if I had nothin' but time--

1) Sleep. Seriously. And after sleeping a bit, I'd lounge in bed and read. Then sleep more. It'd probably take about a week to become thoroughly bored with this--but it'd love to have the opportunity to see exactly how long it takes.
2) Write. I do this a lot now, of course, but it'd be nice to get into some sort of schedule again. Lately, it is simply a matter of extinguishing fires. It'd be nice to get in front of myself.
3) Play tennis.
4) Paint. No, not pictures. The house.
5) Drink a lot of gin. Gin and leisure just go together like salt and pretzels. Mmmmm.

Other F5 participants are: Melissa, Adam, Merideth, Will, Chris, Gina, Dave, Gord, Nanette, Marvin, Rob and Laura

quiz time.

What Irrational Number Are You?
You are φ

Of all the irrational numbers, you are considered to be the most beautiful. Those who know you well have called you by many names, all golden. However, most people don't know you by name and probably won't even recognize you by sight, but they do like to see you. Despite your pretty face, you are by no means shallow. You are involved it many things: finance, biology, architecture, art, music, and much more.

In some ways you and e are a nearly perfect match. The power and intensity of e excites you.

Your lucky number is approximately 1.61803399

Shiny Lemur
Straif's Blog

Thanks Adam! Thanks Ray!

friday five addendum

On the subject of earworms.

I'd forgotten two--and I remember them now simply because they've been haunting me all freaking weekend:

--Scott Miller's "I've Got a Plan." Not the whole song, which would be fun, but eight words from it: "The cod and the bean; bitter and mean." I have no idea why it's stuck.

--The theme song to "Oobi." He got a lot to do and a lot to say, you know.

Off to find pumpkins...

friday five

Friday 5 Question for the Week

I've been reading a lot about Neurology lately, and the rhythm's behind our thought processes. As if by fate, I came across this article yesterday that sums up one of the most insidious kinds of mental loops we all fall into. They're known as earworms.

"Earworm" is the term coined by University of Cincinnati marketing professor James Kellaris for the usually unwelcome songs that get stuck in people's heads. Since beginning his research in 2000, Kellaris has heard from people all over the world requesting help, sharing anecdotes and offering solutions.

"I quickly learned that virtually everybody experiences earworms at one time or another," he said. "I think because it's experienced privately and not often a topic of conversation, maybe people really long for some social comparison. They want to know if other people experience what they experience."

So, what are the top 5 "earworms" you've faced in your life?

A topic near and dear to my ears, actually. Spent the better part of June before last haunted by the damn things. My top five, from past to present:

1) Willie Nelson's version of "Condition My Condition Was In," especially the "Tripped on a cloud and fell 8 miles high..."
2) Title escapes me but the "Rouge my knees and roll my stockings down" line from "All that Jazz."
3) The Oscar Meyer weiner song, which seems to be undergoing a resurgence lately. Which is a pity.
4) Rhett Miller's "Point Shirley," which leaps into my head every time someone mentions Sylvia Plath.
5) Not a song, but ever since I hear Jack Black (on whom I have the strangest little crush) call October "Rocktober" a few weeks ago, I hear it in my head every time I have to write down the date. Soon it will be November and this curse shall be lifted from me.

Other F5 participants are: Melissa, Adam, Merideth, Will, Chris, Gina, Dave, Colleen, Craig, Gord, Nanette, Marvin, and Rob.

the downside

So I spent a good part of my morning trying to find a damn doctor. No, it's nothing serious, just a strange little rash that I get every damn winter, which requires a prescription-only ointment. Out of 14 docs in Oneonta that are accepted by my insurance (which is, for the record, most of the doctors in Oneonta), only two are taking new patients. So what's the problem? The earliest appointment I can get is in January. Grrrr. And so I ask the receptionist--do you know of anyone who I could see before than? Nope, she says, unless you want to drive to Delhi.

Don't get me wrong. Delhi is nice. But it is 25 minutes away on a windy backroad. Right now, the drive is stunning--up and down and through valleys that are exactly what you imagine fall color to be. But in six weeks, once things start getting snowy and icy, it isn't a drive you could pay me to make.

I point this out. She agrees--but insists that January really is the first available new patient slot. So what should I do, I ask. Is it an emergency, she asks. No, I reply. That's too bad, she says. Really, I say. You'll have to wait until January, she says.

Grrrr. She lets me know that if it becomes an emergency, the ER would be happy to see me, which is comforting, I guess, but doesn't really meet my immediate need.

And this is the kicker of living in a small town. There are only so many trained professionals to go around, whether they be plumbers or dentists or arborists. If there is any demand for their services, you simply have to wait until they are free. Or, for some things, be willing to haul your cookies to Binghampton or Albany. Which I would do if it were something weird or life-threatening or specialized. But for everyday stuff, the wait to get things done can be maddening. Gone is the option of simply calling a competitor.

The other kicker, of course, is that there is no Target here. I weep for Target.

The New Yorker's Louis Menand on the new Chicago Manual of Style:

"Some advice is frankly a matter of taste. 'An exclamation point added in brackets to quoted material to indicate editorial protest or amusement is strongly discouraged, since it appears contemptuous,' the authors counsel. 'The Latin expression [sic] is preferred.' First of all, the reason the bracketed exclamation point appears contemptuous is that you use it when you wish to express contempt. There is nothing wrong with contempt. Second...sic is a far more damning interpolation, combining ordinary, garden-variety contempt with pedantic condescension..."

He goes on to decry the hegemony of MS Word with literate glee. It's great piece*, if you like to futz with words and computers. It's in the Oct. 6, 2003 issue.

* The best piece about grammar and syntax would be, of course, David Foster Wallace's "Tense Present," which was in Harper's, April 2001. But you have to really be a language geek to get through all of it. Which I am.