Menu ideas

Friday snuck up on me this week. I often try to do some sort of special dinner on Friday, and this time I have been tempted to make fresh Georgia shrimp the menu’s centerpiece. Not sure what else, maybe mushroom cream/white sauce and pasta. With a side of Brussels sprouts (not as interesting as they might be at the store, as they’d already been stripped from the stalk they grow on; but still…). Tossed salad. Maybe a lemon vinaigrette for that….

So, I’d better get out of this darned chair and get cooking!

JCB scores!

On our most recent treks (to the West and Midwest) we stayed several times at Hampton Inns, in part because they have b’fast, wifi, great beds and bedding, and discounts at some out-of-the-way locations that fit with our itinerary. Feeling like the good consumer he is, when we returned home, The Guru wrote an email To-Whom-It-May-Concern about the pros and cons of what we saw/experienced at so many of their locations in a narrow time frame. And received a responsive non-form-email in reply.

AND, in today’s mail, two (count ’em, two!) coupons for overnight stays at any Hampton Inn location!!!!!! Expiring at the end of 2008!


Today’s vocabulary:



Use in a sentence: The Guru is not an edentulous consumer! (Or maybe you’d best come up with your own example….)

Señor GBH

Got ever so much closer to Señor GBH today—I assume it’s the same one that we saw on Sunday. Even could see the head plume-feathers!

Financial headlines: Dow up 331, NASDAQ up 82, S&P up 40. Hmm, I think I’d like to see a bit more of this trend between now and the end of the year!

Water, water…

I have just passing contact with various aspects of Southeastern historic archaeology, but it seems to me if I were to brush up on domestic residential complexes, I would learn more about cisterns. Yet, I’ve never seen a modern house with a cistern in these parts (although I’m sure there must be at least a few out there). Despite the current precipitation record, it hasn’t stopped raining around here, so we must instead have undergone a revolution in how we obtain water—and switched to deep, drilled wells, and community water systems (also relying on drilled wells).

I listen mostly to NPR streaming on WUNC, and I am now hearing a friendly voice in the station’s cut-in telling me how to catch in a bucket the water that flows out of my showerhead while I’m waiting for it to get hot, so I can use that water productively.

The last time I did that consistently was when I visited rural Alaska years and years ago, where the tundra meant a water truck brought water (no buried pipes) and the honey wagon came by for the other “product.”

Even in Oaxaca, where the water truck is called the pipa, we didn’t catch the shower water, although I always wondered why. Maybe ’cause that water was pretty cheap (from our standard of living, but not, of course, for all), relatively speaking? After all, we purchased drinking water separately from the pipa water….

The other piece of our typical household water system that bypasses conservation measures, of course, is the ignored greywater, but I’ve already ranted a bit about that….

Air quality is of concern, without a doubt, but water is the show-stopper. Remember all those Roman aqueducts? The oases here and there across the globe? The explorers’ stories that recorded where the springs and “sweetwater” were to be found? The terraces and irrigation and flood control structures? Water is where it’s at in human survival. I’ve examined environmental concerns from every angle, and I come back to this….

So, although Google announced they’re investing in developing renewable energy sources (they started their philanthropy aimed at improving peoples’ health, and then saw that affordable, renewable energy underlies that problem), I keep thinking potable water, and water for living and food, is a poorly addressed limited non-renewable commodity. Or something….

Today’s vocabulary:


—tank for storing water: also, reservoir, container, butt (in the sense of a cask, a container for wine, ale, or water, possibly etymologically related to “bottle”)

…from Latin cisterna, from cista ‘box.’

Tree funeral

There are moments when I look at a stump and feel pain not unlike that I feel when I see a critter dead in the road.

Heron in-rain

Really enjoyed walking in the rain. Saw elegant great blue heron. iPhone hasn’t the capacity to capture his/her dramatic black-and-white head markings and yellowy beak in this low-light situation.

Cold(ish) arrives

Winterish weather is finally upon us. We enjoyed a fine walk in midday sun (errands—cruising DVDs at Movies Worth Seeing, and a quick visit to our county library branch), although temps were only barely in the mid-50s. Lots of folks were out managing leaves, or left evidence of same (leafless lawns, tall bags of organic matter by the curb).

I was surprised to find this glorious clematis surviving the cold, perfectly highlighted by the sun’s oblique winter angle, but I think that’s just my ignorance of the broad range of tolerance clematis has….

PS The WSJ reports that Nicholas Negroponte’s program One Laptop Per Child has had 45,000 buyers since sales opened on 12 November, and that they’ve extended the buying period through the end of the year. My guess is that the orders won’t top 100K at this rate, since almost half the sales came the first day. The story gives background I haven’t seen elsewhere about other inexpensive laptops in development by other manufacturers. I don’t know if that is good or bad.

Reality is…?

Multiple realities seem to be easier to contemplate if they are not personal and are part of the world at large. The other day I recorded a quote from the Dalai Lama about two realities—the deep-thinking Buddhist one of the DL and a few others, and that of the rest of us. Today I’ll note a comment from Pierre Bayard’s Who Killed Roger Ackroyd? (1998; English translation 2000). Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd came out in 1926, and caused a bit of a flurry when the (il?)literati realized that the narrator of the mystery story was the guy who-dun-it (this is widely known, so this can hardly be considered a spoiler).

Most lit-crit types go on about how unheard of this was, and are both pro and con on the merits of this twist. Of course, in conventional Chinese “detective” stories, the evil-doer is known from almost the beginning, and the accent in the stories is on how s/he is trapped and what the punishment is (e.g., Robert Van Gulik’s Judge Dee series, translations), so how innovative Christie was is questionable.

Back to Bayard. He writes about what he calls the delusion of interpretation, that Christie’s Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, was delusional when he pronounced his conclusions about the story’s murder to those involved, at a typical Christie gathering of involved characters. Bayard notes:

Constructing a delusion at least offers one advantage: It allows us an alternative way of reflecting on a true reading. Often one poses the question in the most traditional manner, by wondering how to approach the true. It may be of interest, however, to post the question from another angle and to wonder, rather, how to approach the false by exploring it from within, thus rendering it familiar.

One assumes that honest exam questions where the testee is asked to answer either true or false includes only statements that are unequivocally true or false. In the real world, what we far more frequently encounter is something in the middle, perhaps either mostly true or mostly false*. Or, sometimes, situationally true or situationally false.

Certainly, Bayard’s point that you can understand the nuances of any situation better by teasing out the fine points of both the apparent truths and apparent falsehoods, and multiple realities in general, is, I think, fine advice.

* One of the most memorable uses of the qualifier “mostly” must be in the movie The Princess Bride (1987), when Miracle Max (Billy Crystal), a sort of healer, pronounces the hero, Westley (Carey Elwes) to be “mostly dead” when he is apparently dead, and after treatment becomes mostly paralyzed. This is a truly fine movie, even without considering some of the monsters the hero and heroine must overcome are ROUS (Rodents Of Unusual Size).


I know I’ve touched on this perhaps universal human behavior elsewhere, but darnnit, feasting is fun!

I think, perhaps, this was my most successful T-giving spread ever—on-time (thanks in no small part to many assistants and much assistance), each dish near-perfect (knock-out gravy, for example), and exceptional company. Hope your Thanksgiving was as rewarding….

[Yes, I’m ignoring the ugly colonialist aspects of this holiday….]

Two realities

I suspect this is a basswood/American linden/Tilia spp.

There can be two visions of the same thing, one of people who have pure insight developed through spiritual pactice and one that is purely conventional. In these special cases—and these are rare, but important—both are true, both are reality. So there are two viewpoints, one common and one uncommon. The uncommon viewpoint is not considered history, because historians cannot record these things. But we cannot say that all such things are just the imagination of the Buddhist faithful. They can also be true.

—Dalai Lama *

Parse that, I suspect, and you will have gained a smidgen of Big Wisdom.

PS Bird’s in the oven; house smells great!

PPS Is that two versions of the same reality?

* Quote is from page 5 of Thomas Laird’s The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama (2006).