Thursday, December 31, 2009

staying up with chili-and-garlic... wife is fighting off a recurrent cold, in mother--flew in from the East coast last night, asleep downstairs...and I, slightly insomniac, am trying to stave off a head-cold. We went to a Korean restaurant earlier tonight and had pre-emptive boiling garlicky bowls of red soup...

So, this is how 2009 will end and 2010 will begin for us here in Tucson...


Last week, after a rainy night, I went for a morning hike in Ventana canyon, and sure enough, the peaks above had got a dusting of snow the night before:

...on the trail in, I had a little scare--I surprised a herd of a dozen or so musky-smelling javelinas. (My first sighting 'in the wild!') I couldn't help but think of the Dutch tourist a while back who got his calf muscle 'shredded' by the tusks of a not-so-little javelina. (Click here to read the article) Fortunately, the critters ran away from me, and I didn't see any parental-protection-charge-inducing babies...

( ...and this photo 'made the paper again' the other day! ;-) )

...this past weekend, we drove over to CA to visit some friends...I'd never been COLD in L.A.before--but on my morning run in the Verdugo mountains on Saturday, there was frost (!)...At the Saturday morning farmer's market in La Cañada Flintridge (odd compound name for a tony town, eh?), we got to chat in French with a baker, a pâté-maker, and a tablecloth-vendor...and in Korean with several produce-sellers--fresh Asian pears, chirimoya (!), samples of jujube (Chinese date)-tea...

And we also got to visit, briefly, the Huntington Library and gardens in San Marino, near Pasadena. I had been once, twelve years before, but it was my wife's first time...We had only a couple of hours, so we concentrated on the large-scale 18th-c. British portraits in the main house, and the cactus and succulent gardens...A few photos:

...a beautiful place to stroll around, before driving back across the bleak Mojave desert...


...and to sign off tonight, this just got e-mailed to me, and so I include it below:

January 1, 2010
Yearly Review

Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the forty-fourth
president of the United States and ordered the detention
center at Guantanamo Bay closed within a year. George
W. Bush gave his final press conference. "Abu Ghraib was a
huge disappointment," he said. "Not having weapons of mass
destruction was a significant disappointment." A federal
appeals court in Texas ruled to permit the sacrifice of
goats. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael
Steele announced an "off the hook" Republican publicity
campaign, targeting "urban-suburban hip-hop settings." "We
need to uptick our image with everyone," Steele said,
"including one-armed midgets." When asked about the state
of the Republican party, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty
said, "It's kind of like asking whether the stock market
has bottomed out." Thirty-nine million Americans were on
food stamps, 54 percent of graduating U.S. business majors
lacked job offers, and two gunmen robbed a man of one
dollar in the parking lot of an Ohio Wendy's. A top
Pentagon official said that "cutbacks at Best Buy" made it
easier to recruit better-qualified young people for the
military. The war in Iraq turned six; the war in
Afghanistan turned eight; SpongeBob SquarePants turned
ten. In Afghanistan, where the Taliban threatened to chop
off the fingers of anyone who votes, the government passed
a law allowing men to starve wives who refuse sex.

Sea levels continued to rise, and a 40-yard-wide asteroid
just missed the earth. The Mediterranean Sea was plagued
by blobs. Pope Benedict XVI visited Africa; in Angola he
warned against witchcraft, corruption, and condoms. Papal
archaeologists in Rome authenticated the bones of Saint
Paul the Apostle, and Jesus Christ was dismissed from jury
duty in Alabama. Toxic-mining wastes in Idaho were killing
tundra swans; a man in Munich received a two-year
suspended sentence for beating another man with a
swan. Highly aggressive supersquirrels were menacing gray
squirrels in England, where the Law Lords were replaced
with a new Supreme Court whose justices wear no wigs, and
where cosmetic nipple surgery was increasingly popular. A
London taxi driver tied one end of a rope around a post
and the other around his neck and drove away, launching
his head from the car. Anglican hymns were sung at
Darwin's tomb. Two Yellowstone National Park workers were
fired for peeing into Old Faithful. Sarah Palin published
a book, and Sylvia Plath's son hanged himself in
Alaska. Scientists in San Diego made a robot head study
itself in a mirror until it learned to smile.

Newspaper circulation in the United States declined to its
lowest level in 70 years. It was revealed via Twitter that
President Obama called Kanye West a "jackass" and that a
coyote ran off with Jessica Simpson's maltipoo. The Taco
Bell chihuahua died of a stroke, and Sonia Sotomayor was
sworn in as a Supreme Court justice. Walter Cronkite,
Merce Cunningham, and Senator Edward M. Kennedy died, as
did Michael Jackson. Ariel Sharon was still alive. Hamas
and Fatah held peace talks in Cairo. Israel approved the
construction of 900 more settler homes in East Jerusalem,
and ten Florida middle schoolers were suspended for
participating in Kick a Jew Day. Chicago rats fed a diet
of bacon, cheesecake, Ho Hos, pound cake, and sausage
began to behave like rats addicted to heroin, and a
Minnesota man pleaded guilty to driving a La-Z-Boy while
intoxicated. China created a small black hole, and NASA
revealed that a mysterious streak of light spotted by
onlookers in the night sky above North America was a
fortnight's worth of astronaut urine. Physicists said
that the aural jitters picked up by a German
gravitational-wave detector may indicate that we all live
in a giant and blurry cosmic hologram. The United States,
searching for water, bombed the moon.

Permanent URL for this column:

Copyright 2010 Harper's Magazine Foundation

...and now, on with MMX

Friday, December 18, 2009

from the recycling bin:
an example of borderlands bi-illiteracy...

It's the end of the semester...Grades are done (!) and I'm getting ready for the new semester to begin in I'm tidying up the classroom...
and I come across a note, unfolded, face-up in the recycling bin...
Immediately the spanglish catches my eye, and, so, yes, I pick up the note--written in two distinct 'hands,' an on-paper 'conversation' between two of my students (I do not know who, exactly)--and I read it.
(It's reproduced below.)

Purely academic curiosity. (Maybe a bit of teacherly verbal-voyeurism? does that sound bad?)
Well, okay--not 'purely' academic...but I had fun 'analyzing' it.

An 'academic' title of a linguistic analysis might be something like:
Adolescent bilingual code-switching:
The influence of spanglish texting on written informal discourse
in other words--an excerpt of Hispanic-teenage-girl-note-passing. be read outloud--ah, spanglish...

...k me preguntaste eso
ohh okaii well I wish we wur pero no c I dont talk to him cuz I chicken out! :(
y a silviano dise nada
de k ?
De ke te gusta
no she just talkes about him in my face like omg he is so cute
or like he has a nice body n like he was walking with me.. I get
pissed of she tryz to mack me jelouse
pues it's working cause you get mad nomas ignorala
well yea X nose y he know le podran desir k im nervous of going up to him and talking to him. y k c el puede ablar con migo! :D

============================ I exagerrating when I talk about 'bi-illiteracy'?
Hmm...maybe 'semi-literacy' is more accurate than 'illiterate;'
so, 'bi-semi-illiteracy' then.

Friday, December 11, 2009

...flowing again...

..after several months of being reduced to a few pools between long sandy stretches, Sabino Creek is finally free-flowing again!

Yesterday afternoon, as I went on my run into Sabino Canyon, I heard a strange 'new' noise--ahh! rushing water! I peered down to the creek bed--full of little rapids. The rain and mountain snowfall earlier this week has trickled down...

So today after work, my wife and I went on a little hike...(camera in hand...)

The ear's hunger for the sound of running water can be forgotten,
then instantly summoned...and satiated.


Off to the SE: the remaining snow on the upper slopes of the NW flank of the Rincon mountains, seen from the cottonwoods along lower Sabino creek:

...the sycamores and cottonwoods are just reaching their peak fall color along the lower stretch of Sabino Creek, finally a flowing creek again after months of being just a sandy wash:
...a still pool, here and there among the new rapids:
...desert evening sky, always a balm...
Our friend/next-door-neighbor has had to leave the country suddenly; his elderly father's health has taken a turn for the worse...I end up thinking back to my father's last few months before his death just before I finished college...I wonder what it's like to have your father around, to talk to, fully adult-to-adult, all through your 20's...your 30's...into your 40's...
I'm half-way through a short novel right now, "The Cellist of Sarajevo" by Canadian author Steven Galloway...(click here for the 'book jacket')...As I read the harrowing account of the Balkan war in the early 1990's, I think back to the few conversations my father and I had about the experiences he had in the Korean war forty years prior to that...When I was in college, we'd regularly have coffee together in the afternoons, and he'd begun to talk about some of the things he'd seen; he'd been a very young soldier in the latter part of the war, having left Maine to join the army...
...and I think of my grandmother, in Korea during that same time,already widowed and worrying about her eight children (my mother was the youngest) while the U.S. and UN troops and the North Korean and Chinese troops marched back and forth across the country, flattening and re-flattening everything...Time (she died right after I finished high school) and language (I'm still not fluent in Korean) have precluded my talking with her about those years...
So many stories.
So many words...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A column in today's Washington Post...

...lunchtime reading, and I came across
this column in today's Washington Post
re: freedom of press, belief, religion in Russia...'s the link

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

evening, Sabino Canyon, reflections

On last night's run, I noticed a few spots in Sabino Canyon where there are still some clear pools in the creekbed, untouched by the summer drought...

...and even though the calendar says 'December,' it's technically still autumn, and the fall colors are just now peaking down along the creek...

So, after work today, I took the camera and raced into the canyon against the setting sun;
here are a few photos:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

treadmill--fr/sp musings...moonrise

With all the varieties of English today, that word seems relatively constant--in the UK, the US, in the South, the NW, etc. etc.--'treadmill' is universally understood.

A student, though, was trying to explain 'running on the treadmill' in French...
but the expression she used, to my ears, is more often used when referring to a 'moving walkway' or a luggage caroussel in an airport...I tried to verify, but multiple dictionaries confirm multiple usages...
"Tapis roulant" vs. "tapis de jogging" or "tapis de course..."
Also--Canadian-French usage? or European-French usage?
ay ay ay...

Variety is the spice of life...but consistency is nice sometimes, too, no?

And then, curious--I looked up the Spanish expression.
The commonly used word in the U.S. coincides with the commonly-used-in-Mexico "caminadora."
But, note these variations:

molino de rueda de andar
plataforma rodante
faja ergonométrica estacionaria
"el treadmill" (seriously)

tapiz rodante
cintas de correr

Teachers and translators argue over these terms, you know...
So. Treadmills.

I've rarely used them... much nicer (weather permitting) to run outdoors...

earlier this evening: two deer,
young does, crossing my path... ,
full moon rising over the canyon's reddish ridge,
saguaros silhouetted against the lunar surface,
cottontail rabbits dashing under nopales in the twilight...

Now I can face the punks, er, I mean, my dear students, again tomorrow...