Monday, December 17, 2012

Playing with Words

As some might say:

This post is apropos of nothing

Without reference to anything.
Without any apparent reason or purpose.

But it highlights one of the oddities of the English language.

Something like those nonsensical rules of some plurals, like if the plural for goose is geese, why isn't the plural of moose meese?

Or if one is mouse and more is mice

And one is louse and more is lice

Why isn't douse the singular of dice?

When we speak of one human, we say, well, human

when we speak of more than one human, we say humans

yet, one man is man, more than one man is men

It follows that more than one human should be humen

Why is this not so?

And just to split hairs further, we could say a human is a man.

A woman could be a huwoman

Well, that's not easy to say, so human woman would have to do.

But there we go again using the word man twice to describe the other gender.

I could have the same argument with female. Shouldn't there be a word that does not rely on a masculine root word? [Even the word she is dependent on the word he]

Yes of course, there is the word lady. But I have heard many that could be called that word insist it has bad connotations and they do not like to be called lady.

[Girl and boy don't count as they are words for children.]

We have to celebrate that there is a completely different word for a possessive pronoun – his and her[s].

So, wowee!

And you have to admit the words masculine and feminine are different, except for the final ine.

-- Cat [who, guess what, could be called feminist--]

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Most Magic Moment

At last! It's 12:12 on 12/12/12

I've been waiting for this exact moment since 11:11 on 11/11/11

What the significance of this moment is, I cannot say.

But there will not be another such until 1:1 on 1/1/1 [that's 2101--89 years from now]

I wonder if anyone will be around to mark that moment.

The doomsday predictor in me says no.

At least not on this planet.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembrance Day

I have two different music videos posted today to commemorate the brave soldiers who have died for their country and for peace.

Since I first heard it in 1985, I've loved the song Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits. The lyrics are moving and so appropriate for the message they send.

This is a powerful video of the song and shows the horror, the senselessness, and stupidity of war. Who gains? A wealthy few. Who loses? Everyone.

I heard The White Cliffs of Dover by Vera Lynn on Remembrance Day several years ago on CBC public radio. 

The song was written in 1941 and recorded in 1942, when Europe was in the grip of the second world war. An immensely popular song, it's filled with hope that there will be an end, there will be an 'after.'

Can we now, seventy years later, still have that hope?

I cry when I hear both of these.

-- Cat

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Time passes

I saw a TV commercial, for toothpaste I think, that said the average person smiles fifty times a day. That's probably forty-seven times more than I smile per day.

No explanation, no excuse.


So, I was playing a game of Hearts on my computer. 

Playing against West, North, and East, I wasn't doing too badly. I was up to 53% games won! I did not feel guilty when I called my opponents bad names when I thought they were particularly mean to me, and I gloated shamelessly when I won a game. "Take that, North." "Serves you right, West" "East, you are a ----- [insert suitable insult].

Then I made a huge mistake. I gave my computer opponents real names

And wouldn't you know it, my winning percentage began to drop. 48, 42, 37....


Because my opponents had come to life, in a manner of speaking, I was more careful about using, ahem, colorful language when things didn't go my way. And I didn't often have reason to gloat.

When my percentage stats hit 31, I went on hiatus.

Once my holiday is over, I will reset the counter and go back to playing West, North, and East.

My computer is used to being bludgeoned with words.

And I would like to win again.


Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A hooting good time

It was mid August. August 15th, to be exact.

And it was past midnight.

We were watching TV, the windows open wide, for the day had been hot and we wanted to catch the cool night air.

I heard laughter and shouting in the distance.

Every summer young people often gather and party in the big park a few blocks away.

"Party animals." We smiled, glad we didn't live across the street from the park, that we were buffered by a thick green zone of tall spruces and cedars.

The sounds continued, louder hooting and hollering. "Wild party animals."

My daughter-in-law came up from the basement, smiling.

"Do you hear that noise? I think it's owls mating."

We went on the deck and listened.

It was party animals all right. The very wild kind. The owl kind, making noises we had never heard before. Much louder than the usual hoo hoo, an almost sweet lonesome sound we hear every night.

No. This was series of intensifying hoo hoo's leading up to a crescendo, ending with what sounded like laughter.

I did some research and found this:

Explains it all: owls being owls, territorial huffing and puffing.

It was a wee bit more interesting when we thought they were partying, Hefner style.

But neat nonetheless.

– Cat

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Moon, August 31, 2012

I saw the moon tonight – it was wonderfully clear and bright – and I remembered hearing that this full moon was going to be a blue moon.

Although most months have one full moon [it occurs every 29.5 days], August of this year is one of the special months that have two full moons: August 2 and August 31.

The moon is never really blue, but apparently at times it can appear blue if somewhere in the world a volcano is spewing ash into the atmosphere.

The expression "once in a blue moon" naturally refers to a rare event. I first read this phrase in a British book when I was a kid. I thought it was only a fanciful expression and was amazed to learn it was based on a real occurrence.

And of course I have to add a video of the wonderful ballad Blue Moon, written in 1934 by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, performed by Nat King Cole. This has nothing to do with the astronomical event, but it's a great song that needs to be shared! 


Monday, August 13, 2012

One for the lefties

Yes! Here is truly a day for me.

August 13th – International Lefthanders Day – Promotes and raises awareness about the inconveniences experienced by left-handed people in the world today, observed since 1976.

Wait a minute, I thought. True, I was born left-handed. But in those olden days in some countries, people [obviously the righties] believed there was something sinister about the left-handed. 

Per –

In the past, to be left-handed was considered touched by the Devil. As Wikipedia notes:

Historically, the left side, and subsequently left-handedness, was considered negative in many cultures. The Latin word sinistra originally meant "left" but took on meanings of "evil" or "unlucky" by the Classical Latin era, and this double meaning survives in European derivatives of Latin, and in the English word "sinister".

Meanings gradually developed from use of these terms in the ancient languages. In many modern European languages, including English, the word for the direction "right" also means "correct" or "proper", and also stands for authority and justice. 

So, if you were left-handed or sinister, you were associated with evil. In time, sinister itself meant evil and threatening. EtymOnline said that sinister attained this meaning in the early 15th century. 

Because these old superstitions were still around when I was small, I was trained to use my right hand for most everything except writing. [I'm told I fussed too much.] Therefore I never experienced the inconveniences true left-handed people face every day. 

I've never had problems with scissors, knives, saws [all sharp objects, notice]. I can ride a motorbike, use a mouse, a sewing machine and all the hundreds of things that are designed to be used by the righthander.

So I'm only partially entitled to call International Lefthanders Day my day. I'm surely less than half qualified, but since writing, drawing, etc. can be seen as important, I will say one half of me [the left half] will celebrate this day.

I want to note that many who are born right-handed bat and throw a baseball, bowl, golf, etc. with their left hand. Isn't life strange?

Some people tend to overthink this left-sided right-sided thing and   pigeonhole everyone into categories: for example, more serial killers are left-handed, more models are right-handed... [Okay, I just made that up, but this is an example of what's going on].

Interestingly, five of the last seven American presidents have been left-handed. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. 

Among other notables who used their left-hands — Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Alexander the Great, Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill. 

Canada has not had any left-handed prime ministers.

These things are only important because left-handers have been seen by others as "different." Otherwise, who cares?

That all said, I do feel a slight kinship with other lefthanders. But that's only because we have something in common. I might admire them or I might think they're nuts.

I always felt odd writing in front of other people. I guess it's the awkward looking curl of the hand that looks like you're trying to hide something.

A gawking customer who watched me write out a receipt told me, "It's fascinating the way you people [you people must be lefties] can write that way."

He wasn't the only one that remarked on the way I wrote or looked at me as if I were from outer space.

So maybe there is something different – and sinister – about me after all.

– Cat

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ingenious, not

One of my daily newsletters indicated August 9th is a holiday --
UN International Day of the World's Indigenous People.

I took a brief glance and misread it as the World's Ingeneous People.

At last, I thought, a day for me!

The glow quickly faded when I read that the day "Promotes the protection of the rights of the world's indigenous populations and recognizes the various contributions that indigenous peoples have made to society."

I am excluded by the meaning of the word indigenous.

Well, I guess I am also excluded as I have not made any contributions to society.

So I am doubly excluded.

My day was better before I read this.

But let's hear it for the indigenous peoples of the world. They deserve to have protection of their rights.

It does leave me thinking, though, that all the people in the world were at one time indigenous to a certain place. What would the world look like if no one had left their indigenous homes in search of adventure, new lands, gold?

Maybe that's just a silly thought, one of many I have.

Now I will wait to see if they have an International Day of the Silly People of the World.

– Cat

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Oh, Canada

Today, July 1st, was Canada Day.

It's great to see patriotism on display everywhere.

We had a beautiful day and tonight at dusk my son lit off some fireworks in the driveway. I was sitting in my office, the window wide open, and I heard the fireworks explode and some children in the neighborhood oohing and aahing at each burst.

And then a chorus of small sweet voices sang the national anthem, O Canada, and finished with a cheer and the words, "Thank you, Canada!" 

It was a perfect moment in time.

Thank you, Canada!

-- Cat

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Musical Interlude

Gary Moore -  Still got the Blues 
Great blues from 1990

Secret Garden - Moongate [2007]

Simply because ...


Friday, June 15, 2012

Another scam, another scare

The phone rang this morning. Call display showed it originated in Washington from a toll-free number.

I've had enough of those to know what to expect.

A lady with a thick South Asian accent told me Microsoft, who constantly monitors such things,  [Yeah...!?] has determined my computer was in imminent danger of being infected by a terrible virus. The infection would destroy everything on my computer, render it a useless shell. She, of course, was authorized to help me stop this from happening.

I told her I had an excellent program that would prevent any threat or virus from damaging my system. I felt well protected and didn't need help from the outside. Besides, how could she tell that I was infected?

She said she would show me if I press the Windows key on the bottom left of the keyboard and hold down the R key at the same time. I told her I was not going to do this, thank you anyway but I didn't need her help. Goodbye.

I found many referrals to this scam on the Internet. The Windows key+R opens the "run" line. It's presumed the caller spells out a certain executable program to type in, which gives them full control of your computer and all the information on it. One person noted he told the caller he had a Macintosh computer, thus no Windows key. This confused the caller who said she would have to get her supervisor to solve the problem.

If I had been more quick I could have told the lady I had the run line open, then typed out her instructions on to a text file and sent it all to Internet cops, whoever they are.

Or maybe Bill Gates should know what's going down.

Foolish me. I'm sure Mr. Gates already knows. I read somewhere that just holding down the Windows key gives him and his gang a window into your computer. [A window – get it?]

Is this paranoid, or what? I put it right up there with those people who think our TVs are all equipped with little cameras and microphones, and our phone lines are all  bugged.

Then again, how many of you have watched in wonder as a technician from the cable company takes control of your television set from their office in another city?

It has come to pass. Big Someone is watching you. Trust no one.

– Cat

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Final Frontier

So Dragon, the first commercial spacecraft, carries among supplies and other equipment for the international space station, 308 canisters of ashes to be disbursed into the great void. At a cost of $3000 per it doesn't seem a great amount, especially compared to the million dollars plus that has been quoted it would cost a live person to visit the space station.

Included among the canisters are the ashes of James Doohan, who played Scotty on the original Star Trek series. How appropriate to have his remains suspended in space for all eternity. For anyone, I would say.

I always wanted my ashes to be spread into the ocean, preferably somewhere warm -- Tahiti, Hawaii, where a warm current circulates. 

I'm close to changing my mind. The more I think about it, the more inclined I am to opt for the vastness of space. 

I do have questions, though. We've all seen how the absence of gravity causes liquids to float around in one blob. Will the ashes do the same thing – cling together and create a solid mass? What happens if gravity exerted by a passing asteroid or meteor attracts the ashes? Or if they float close enough to a planet or a moon to be sucked down? How about a spaceship returning to Earth? So you end up back in the place where you hadn't wanted to be in the first place... 

Would any of this happen? Could any of this happen? Does it really matter? 

I still have some childhood dreams of blasting off into outer space. Maybe that will be the way to come full circle. 

-- Cat

Monday, February 20, 2012

Modern Devices

I must be getting loopy.

Today I found myself talking to a robot vacuum as it trolled the room. "Over here," I said, pointing. "You missed a spot."

Naturally, it ignored me.

It just needed a little nudge to move in the right direction, and it soon efficiently completed the task.

Somewhat like some people.

Or maybe, like some people, it just has a mind of its own.

Come to think of it, I often talk to my computer. It can be pretty obstinate about certain things. When that happens and I am about as frustrated as I can be, I pull the plug and say, "Take that!" And when I turn it back on it's as sweet as anything and pretends nothing bad ever happened.

Like some people.


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

e-books and all that

I received an e-book reader for Christmas.

Yes, it had to happen. Technology, and all that. And the floors in my office are sagging under the weight of hundreds of books, big hefty ones, tall skinny ones, hardback, soft back, new, old, and older.

However, can I say "the writing is on the wall" while keeping a straight face?

I love the idea of hundreds of books in a "library" sized 5 x 7 x 1/2 inch and weighing a couple of ounces. I can buy books without leaving my house, my office, my chair. I know I will have much use of this e-reader.

And yet... I love books that are more than mere phantoms existing in a place called cyberspace. I love the feel of a book in my hands, I love turning pages made of paper, I love looking at pictures, I love the smell of paper and print and binding. How can I abandon something that's been a big part of my life since I was a child, that exists in reality, a 3-D tangible object and replace it with something that is zapped through the air from a virtual plane?

Yes, yes the future is now. Save the trees. Save space, save money.

To that, I say bah, humbug.

The Joy of Books