Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rat Words

Maddy is reading "The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted" by Harry Harrison. It's one of my old paperbacks and it's still funny 20 years after it was written. She just came across a few unfamiliar words and asked me what they meant.

That's "residual" it means what is left over.

Not a real word.
Are you sure it's not a real word?
We went back and forth, she showed it to me in print.
It's a word that he made up, and from the context it means that he ate something.
But it says, "I didn't eat it so much as I insufflated it."
After that it says that he went back for more. The author could have said that he "inhaled it," or "ate it without tasting it," but he preferred to make up his own word.

and finally there was
Do you mean "cabal?"
She spelled it for me.
Oh, that's a cuss word that he made up.
What does it mean?

She was surprised at the last one, and also that I thought it should be pronounced with a long "A." Cagal," rhymes with "bagel."

Edit: INSUFFLATE is a real word! Darn you internet. But CAGAL is not. Not yet that is.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad Maxina World

You have just experienced the Great Windstorm of ‘06. OK, I have have. Those of you who live outside of the Prisstopolis area were only able to watch it on TV. It started with some rainy weather earlier in the week. Wednesday was quiet as were the daylight hours of Thursday. My son got home at his usual time, then my daughter came home from school early, they had canceled extracurricular activities.

At 4PM the sky went dark except for lightning, which is a rare phenomenon around here. Looking out of the windows, I could see the 200 foot Douglas Firs bending back and forth. Every few minutes the lights would dim and then come back to full. I made dinner early, then checked out my usual internet interests. At 9:30, the power went down completely. I heard groans from the rec room, the PrissKids were going to miss tonight’s episode of My Name is Earl, they were desolated. Since I just find that show annoying, all I could do was laugh.

While the PrissKids kept themselves amused by dancing LED flashlight patterns on the walls to the beat of their MP3 players, I found that I was able to stay on the internet. The laptop was fully charged, and my telephone landline connection was solid. I finally shut it off after midnight with 20% battery reserve remaining. On Friday morning, Zbiggy turned the machine on, clicked on and found that classes were canceled. The district site had crashed.

Midday I took the car out in search of coffee and wi-fi, and a working electrical outlet. The Tulleys’ coffee isn’t very good, but they have free wi-fi, and we could always order cocoa, it’s hard to mess that up. But the outage was widespread. Most stores were closed, and the traffic lights were off.

After driving around and getting stuck in traffic, I stopped at a grocery store. They had partial power from a generator, and everyone was shopping in the dark. My check card scanned and debited without a problem. Infrastructure for separating people from their money has suddenly leapt forward. At home, I used the last of my firewood to warm up and make mocha java. That’s when I made my last post. We lit Holiday and Shabbat candles, watched the fire, and eventually went to bed early.

By Saturday morning, the house was getting cold. Letting the PrissKids sleep late, I was on the road by 8:30. My first objective was more Chanukah candles, then maybe some lappy power, and oh yes, firewood. Unlike Prissville, Seattle had power, so candle-shopping was no problem. Then I went to StarWars, but their wi-fi required me to sign up online for tmoblie. A conversation with someone who was actually drinking their coffee, led to trying another coffee spot, one with really good bagels, but their wi-fi was suffering from messed up settings. Plus, I didn’t want to stand in line.

Taking a different route home, I espied that elusive animal, the roadside stack of free wood. There were jagged one and two-foot sections of two by fours and one by fours in the corner of a construction site. Wet and muddy, but not green, I knew that they would burn. My next stop was ye olde peace vigil.

It was the usual the hour of waving at drivers and holding antiwar signs. I caught up on whose power was still off, and discussed the latest Jimmy Carter book. Across the parking lot, one of the peaceniks was loading a hand truck of freshly sawn logs into his pickup. I went over to investigate. Just out of sight, around the corner, another activist was chainsawing and splitting a windfall tree. I asked if some of it was available. He said that there would be plenty, but that I shouldn’t burn it yet.

Seeing that I had every intention of trying to burn it right away, he directed me to the smaller branches, and then offered to bring me some dried wood from home. This was seriously cool.

Back home with wood both scrounged and shared, things were cheery. The PrissKids lit candles for day two. I toasted turkey sandwiches and made an awesome fruit compote. Power came back in the early evening, we were out for 45 hours. Some neighborhoods within a few miles still haven’t been restored.

Friday, December 15, 2006

powah down

Brethers and Sisteren,

The power has been out since nine-ish last night. My imac battery is on death's door. Happily, toasted cheese sandwiches made in the fireplace taste much better than the microwaved kind.

Yours in this new post-industrial world,


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dancing in the trees

(Sing this to the tune of Dancing In The Streets by Martha And The Vandellas)

It’s reforrestation for your airport vacation
A chance to see a tree
They’ll be red lights blinking
And glasses clinking
And smatterrings of greenery

It doesn’t matter where you were born
Or where you are headed today
Just walk your feet in a vector
Through our metal detector
A tannenbaum will send you on your way

Everyone will be dancing, to celebrate the trees

It’s a fascination with conifloration
And a natural antifreeze
A medication for your irritation
As we check you through security

It doesn’t matter where you were born
Or where you are headed today
There’s a pine scent in the air
As we x-ray your hair
And a tannenbaum to see you on your way

All over the runway
Next to the coffee pot
Can’t forget the people mover
And the parking lot
Everyone will be dancing, to celebrate the trees

Everyone will be dancing, to celebrate the trees

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Flying in a Winter Wonderland

In a developing news story around these here parts, some frequently flying Rabbis found that the seasonal greenery decorating Seatac airport diminished their travel experience. One of them, a cheerful black-hatted beard-wearer, notified the Port Authority that unless a Menorah fitted with electric light bulbs were installed next to the Christmas tree, he would be forced to file suit.

The airport responded by removing the trees. This disappointed the Rabbi, he wanted equal interior decoration. It also infuriated airport workers. No longer would their bleak existences be brightened by a triangle of green above the door to the concourse. Today they are buttonholing travelers and asking them to militate for tree-instatement.

Taken to its extreme, fulfilling a request for equal representation in decoration would lead to ever expanding collages of religious symbols posted in our public places. In my book, that would make for an overly graven image laden environment.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Humor noir, humor GLOW IN THE DARK

News reporters are refusing to drop the story about the spy who was poisoned by radiation. "He must have done something to annoy the Russians!"

The way I see it, he got off easy.

If you irritate the the Mafia, they shoot you, and hack off any male anatomical characteristics and stuff them into your mouth.

Run afoul of the AMA and it's even worse. They cut off your tonsils, appendix, gallbladder and spleen, and then kill you slowly with chemo and radiation.