Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Erection Day

ZOMG!1! I meant to write "Election Day" but for some reason I'm writing with a comically stereotypical Asian accent this morning.

Teh 'Bride and I had off yesterday day because it was election day so we went out and voted1.

Now that baseball season is over (Congrats to the SF Trannies and their #1 fan!1!), I've got a bit more time on my hands to do stuff that had been getting short shrift earlier, such as reading. So yesterday, even though, in addition to voting, I brewed a bock beer; went to the Home Despot (Motto: "Don't buy what you want; buy what I fucking tell you to buy, maggot!1!") to get salt for our water purification system; did various chores around the house; ran 9.42 miles2 — even though I did all that, I still managed to read like 50 pages of the book I'm currently reading.

That book, by the way, is The Disappearing Spoon, which is a book about the periodic table but that I'm pretty sure I've fatuously told more than one person is about the periodical table, because, what with me being a librarian and all, I have a difficult time saying periodic without unthinkingly adding -al. And if you don't know the difference between the two, please never send me a magazine subscription through the mail.

Anyroad, Teh Disappearing Spoon is one of those popular science titles that I occasionally pick up in my never-ending battle against my science-ignorance, a battle that never ends precisely because these stupid fucking popular science books never really enlighten me much because they're either not really about the science (TDS is not exactly a chemistry textbook; more like a collection of gossipy anecdotes about the periodic table and the men and women who loved it); or, if they are about the science, I'm too fucking3 thick-skulled to understand what they're saying, even when it's dumbed down. For example, I loved Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos but if you asked me to say something meaningful — just one fumigant thing — about either, I'd be hard-pressed to do so; because just as one concept is kinda-sorta taking hold in my head, another comes along and pushes that first one out, which is essentially the Story of My and Science's Life-Long Love-Hate Relationship. O, Science! Will you ever let me get past second base with you? I'd still call you in the morning4!

So this 5-month gap between the end of the World Series and the beginning of the new baseball season is the perfect time for me to start my Rdng Shxpr5 project. I have a few books still on my night table that I have to get through, but once I do, it'll be Shakespeare time, baby! Possibly as early as the end of this month.

No promises.
I signed up for a 5K on 11/14 and my town's Turkey Trot (also 5k) on Thxgvg Dy.
1 If it had actually been Erection Day, we'd've stayed home and ... done something else (that's what she said ... but by "something else" she meant clean the bathrooms!)

2 In 1:27:40; pace: 9:18; average mph: 6.5. I neither like nor dislike these numbers. I went out expecting to run no more than six, six-and-a-half miles, but it was a nice, cool, sunny day, so I improvised and even though I knew I was getting close to running 10 miles, which I'd've liked to do, I wasn't sure how close, so I just brought it on home where I learned that if I'd just run for maybe 5 minutes more, I'd've made it to 10 miles. O, well. 9.42 miles is still a pretty good start for the month, and I should have no problem getting to 100 miles for the month and, if I do that, 1000 for the year. I'm currently at 912.53, and even if I have an off-month in November, I should have little problem getting to 1000 early in December.

Barring, that is, catastrophic circumstances beyond my control, such as a running-ending injury of some sort. For let us not forget what Thomas Hardy reminded us of in his poem, "The Convergence of the Twain": While vainglorious man is busily constructing his "unsinkable" Titanic, God's in His heaven assiduously constructing His iceberg, the existence of which vainglorious man wots not of. (Technically? I think God may have constructed the iceberg waaay before man did the Titanic. So Hardy got that part wrong.)

And so my obvious point here is that if I don't make it to 1000 miles for the year, it will be the Greatest Catastrophe Known to Man since the Sinking of the Titanic. But even if that happens, even if I don't get to 1000 for the year ... My Heart Will Go On ... unless the injury turns out to be something like spontaneous heart-combustion. In that case, My N*ts@ck Will Go On. Because what are the chances I'd get spontaneous heart-combustion and spontaneous n*ts@ck-combustion? Pffttt! Like, nil.

3 Okay, explain this to me:

What is Blogger, coy, or something? Because, incompetent typist that I am, I originally misspelt "fucking" above, thus: "fuckign". And Blogger (working, I suppose, in conjunction with my Mac's dictionary? I guess?) realized this was a misspelling, and made the following suggestions:

"Fumigant"? Really?

Okay, so Blogger (and my Mac) are both pretending they don't even know the word "fucking", because they don't even suggest that obvious alternative; getting all, Such language! O, my virgin microprocessor! But here's the thing:

If you change "fuckign" to "fucking", Blogger (and the Mac) do NOT underline the latter in red and thereby designate it a misspelling, and here's the proof:

So you do know the word "fucking", Blogger and Mac! But you still want me to call myself "fumigant thick-skulled"?

Fumigant PRUDES!1!

4 Full Disclosure: What I'll call you is: A Whoo-wer!1!

5 There are six authenticated William Shakespeare signatures in existence. In none of them does he sign his name "Shakespeare"; that spelling is merely the one everyone has agreed on5a. I was told once, long ago, that one of the spellings Teh Bard himself used was "Shxpr", which tickled me, for some reason, probably the fact that he didn't even stop to use a vowel, and so I took to using that one myself a lot, and I even have my TypeIt4Me utility on my Mac at home set up to expand "Shxpr" into "Shakespeare", if I so desire. Sadly, it turns out not to be true that Shxpr ever signed his name that way ... that we know of. You'll find his name spelled that way passim, in documents of the time, but not by Shakespeare himself. But I refuse to let go of this spelling because I'm perverse.

5a The various spellings: Willm Shakp, William Shaksper, Wm Shakspe, William Shakspere, Willm Shakspere, and William Shakspeare. "Shakp" is good, but it has that vowel and ... no "x"! Face it, it's no "Shxpr"! Not by a long shot.


  1. "ZOMG!1! I meant to write "Election Day" but for some reason I'm writing with a comically stereotypical Asian accent this morning."

    This made me laugh this morning. While I awoke to such a great mood and if I only had "one", it would be as hard and big as yours! I am thrilled over the "erection" results for us here in WI. I won't go all out political here or on my blog to rub it in, but then again, that's what this country is all about....still having some freedom-that seems to be dwindling more and more every day!

  2. Brilliant idea to save time on reading the Bard by only reading the consonants!

    I always forget which order it was (ten seconds of computer search would do it), but Hardy switched between being a poet and a novelist based on bad reviews. The man could write - novels.

    A post I've been meaning to write has a lot of quantum mechanics in it, along with epistemology. That'd get a lot of "guh?" responses, I'm sure.

  3. I missed Erection Day. I was in Albany NY for work. Not a horrible place to be. Add in the fact that after 8 zillion nasty, mud slinging commercials I now despise every single person running for office in this state. Bunch of fumigant dbags, they are.

    I'm struggling with The Corrections. Forgot to pack it for my trip and picked up Girl w/ the Dragon Tattoo in the airport bookstore. Thoughts?

  4. @Cavewoman Beth - I haven't read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (it took me 8 years and someone shoving it into my hands to get around to reading The Corrections), but it has great buzz. Best I can offer on that.

    The Corrections, however, I really enjoyed. I kinda liked the conceit that everybody's life is a series of corrections of one kind or another and if you could just get it right after that first mulligan ...

    But, in fact, our lives are those mistakes, aren't they.

    As John Lennon sang, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." But those things that happen to you while you're planning you life are your life and a lot of the time you don't realize it till way later.

    Franzen is also a very good prose stylist, so I'd recommend The Corrections highly.

  5. @SteveQ - I already knew that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle did not affect things at the macro level (my blog is about as close at teh Eponymous Principle gets to having any bearing on life at this large level), but it wasn't until last night, whilst reading a chapter of The Disappearing Spoon, that I learned that the whole the-act-of-observing-alters-what's-being-observed thing (the Observer Effect) is not part of the Uncertainty Principle and is, in fact, only tangentially related.

    Live and learn, right?

    So bring on the quantum epistemology, already! I've got my bottomless bag of "Guh?"s ready!

  6. The observer effect is based upon the fact that it takes at least a quantum of energy bounced off something to be detected by sensors and that that changes that thing's energetic state. The smallest amount of energy that one can use is determined by Planck's constant (2 times pi times h, I think), which determines the limit of what can be known, which is the uncertainty principle.

    My latest post makes THAT sound intelligible. I tried to explain the way I look at training!

  7. If you are looking for something on the periodic table that's a little more meaty please look at my recent book,

    Eric Scerri, The periodic table, Its Story and Its Significance, Oxford University Press, 2007.

    From Amazon and other usual places

    all the best

  8. I find it quite odd that Shakespeare never actually himself put an e after the k. So he's actually the shak man? Right now I'm trying to say shak and shake with a British accent and I'm not hearing much of a difference anyway.

  9. @slg - There are some interesting linguistic theories as to what an honest-to-Jebus Elizabethan accent sounded like. Disclaimer: I claim no expertise in this area.

    That said, one of the creepiest (to my mind) is the one that holds that Elizabethans spoke like current-day Appalachians. I just can't imagine this. Although, on second thought, it might be interesting to hear a whole play done this way, and not necessarily in the same way that it might be interesting to hear a Shakespeare play done in, say, Pig Latin; i.e., I don't mean for the novelty value.

    Others think Eliz. Eng. was more like a Scottish Burr mixed with an American South accent - I'm not sure how helpful that is because as an American, I know there is¹ a wide variety of Southern accents, so I'm sure the variety of Scottish Burrs is¹ equally broad.

    @Eric Scerri - I just looked your book up in my library system and it turns out that we don't have it in any of our branch libraries, but it is available at the college, with which we have borrowing privileges. And here (according to the catalog record) are the last lines of your book's Choice review: "Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals."

    Upper-division undergraduates through professionals! O, man! I appreciate the vote of confidence! But part of the point of the post above is that I Am A Science Fucktard and any science book that doesn't basically include Find-a-words and the tag-line "32 pages of pictures to color!" is probably out of my depth.

    Plus, for me, next stop: Shakespeare.

    As consolation, though, I offer this: If SteveQ reads this comment, he'll most likely either go out and get the book and read it, or inform us that he already has. This is a mixed blessing, because the next stop on the SteveQ express is his telling you what you got egregiously, unforgivably wrong!


    (Though I'm not sure who, exactly, this kertwang is aimed at.)

    Full disclosure: I actually just put a hold on the title. But if it makes me feel stoopud, I'll stop reading it.
    ¹ N.B., slg: "variety ... is", even though I don't particularly care for the sound of that in this particular context

  10. I learned periodicity from Dobereiner's (there should be an umlaut over the o) triads around 19 ought-5. Then skipped ahead to Glen Seaborg's quest for the Island of Stability around at. no. 124. Inbetween, it's all actinides and lanthanides anyway and who cares, really?