Caveat: Changeable Weather

It can be interesting seeing the shifts in weather. These shifts seem more noticeable when it gets colder. I think it has to do with a change from the monotonic and endless fronts of Pacific rain to the colder continental airmasses that sometimes make it out this far.

Yesterday, I happened to capture this with a series of pictures from the deck looking north toward the mountain across the water.

8 AM.

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10 AM.

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NOON.

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Caveat: πoetry

I saw this at a blog I read, called JF Ptak Science Books. The guy is a dealer in old and rare books, with an emphasis on books related to the history of science and ideas. He often posts very interesting things.

He found a text of a poem published in 1905, which has an unusual constraint: each word in the poem has the same number of letters as a digit of the number π (3.141592653589793238462643383279), in order.

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The poem’s text:

Sir, - I send a rhyme excelling
 3     1   4  1   5       9
In sacred truth and rigid spelling.
 2    6     5    3    5      8
Numerical sprites elucidate
    9        7        9
For me the lexicon's dull weight.
 3  2   3     8       4     6
   If "Nature" gain,
    2    6      4
   Not you complain,
    3   3     8
Tho' Dr. Johnson fulminate. 
 3    2     7       9

Most definitely a bit of oulipisme-avant-le-lettre.
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Caveat: as fast as I can

I present a flashback to the mood of this blog 2 years ago – when I often posted contemporary songs I thought would resonate with my middle-schoolers.

I continue to believe Taylor Swift is one of the best songwriters of the current era in the pop genre.

What I’m listening to right now.

Taylor Swift, “The Man.” The context for this song, is, at least partly, her ongoing legal battles with the condescending record company execs who absconded with her intellectual property, and who are, perhaps not coincidentally, men.

Lyrics.

I would be complex
I would be cool
They’d say I played the field before
I found someone to commit to
And that would be okay
For me to do
Every conquest I had made
Would make me more of a boss to you
I’d be a fearless leader
I’d be an alpha type
When everyone believes ya
What’s that like?
I’m so sick of running
As fast as I can
Wondering if I’d get there quicker
If I was a man
And I’m so sick of them
Coming at me again
‘Cause if I was a man
Then I’d be the man
I’d be the man
I’d be the man
They’d say I hustled
Put in the work
They wouldn’t shake their heads
And question how much of this I deserve
What I was wearing, if I was rude
Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves
And we would toast to me, oh, let the players play
I’d be just like Leo, in Saint-Tropez
I’m so sick of running
As fast as I can
Wondering if I’d get there quicker
If I was a man
And I’m so sick of them
Coming at me again
‘Cause if I was a man
Then I’d be the man
I’d be the man
I’d be the man
What’s it like to brag about raking in dollars
And getting bitches and models?
And it’s all good if you’re bad
And it’s okay if you’re mad
If I was out flashin’ my dollas
I’d be a bitch, not a baller
They’d paint me out to be bad
So it’s okay that I’m mad
I’m so sick of running
As fast as I can
Wondering if I’d get there quicker
If I was a man (you know that)
And I’m so sick of them
Coming at me again (coming at me again)
‘Cause if I was a man (if I was man)
Then I’d be the man (then I’d be the man)
I’m so sick of running
As fast as I can (as fast as I can)
Wondering if I’d get there quicker
If I was a man (hey!)
And I’m so sick of them
Coming at me again (coming at me again!)
‘Cause if I was a man (if I was man)
Then I’d be the man
I’d be the man
I’d be the man (oh)
I’d be the man (yeah)
I’d be the man (I’d be the man)

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Caveat: Poem #1253

Within

Where Iron Factories spouted grey,
There I dwelt by Mahhalian shores.
So Doctor Hubert came with a Word,
For plastic Angels of the new Hell
City; for mind-slaves of Its hurt.
There I became blest--his Apostle.

Wind beat a slime to a sandy shore
There I began to hear of his word.
And from a dead-empty, bloody Hell
All the eyes glossy-dull by a hurt
The Rats fled; became his Apostles
So he promised to remove the grey.

Said he: No one can refute my Word
There I said: Amen! Ruin this Hell
Dr. Hubert!  Destroy my deep hurt!
He smiled: follow me, my Apostles.
Showing us how to survive the grey
Leading us to a candy-green shore.

Dancing, we were far from any Hell
Hoping, we failed to feel any hurt
Loving, thus were we his Apostles.
Plastic melted; we denied the grey
Eyes flickering/reflecting a shore
Free, happily alive with his Word.

Under a rock, the centipede hurts,
And he crawls, to sting an Apostle
Leaping, then he dies cadaver-grey
He's left to rot on a slimy store.
I run; I search for His holy Word,
The rats return whispering of Hell

For Hope, thus I became an Apostle
Then the rat-emperor came in grey,
And drove us to a cadavered shore,
Erected a cross for harmless Words
Removed the candy, revealed a Hell
No! Not Dr. Hubert.  Not the Hurt!

He brought Apostles to the shores,
He destroyed hurt with his Words--
But Hell revealed the Grey within.

– this is a “guest poem” – not by another author, but by me, but written 37 years ago, in the fall of 1982. It is a sestina, in form, with an additional constraint revealed in the use (abuse) of the mono-spaced font. The poem was “lost” for most of the intervening years, but turned up in a box that I was sorting through in recent weeks.
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Caveat: Snow Generator

I’m trying to make a habit of once a month, around the beginning of that month, to go and check the GDC (RV). I run the engine for 30 minutes, with the heater full blast, to heat things up inside. I start and run the generator for while to make sure it still works. I check the inside and make sure no major mold or such is growing.

It was snowing pretty hard as I did that this morning.

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Caveat: Beetling toward the end

The VW corporation is officially retiring the Beetle after 70 years.

Actually, they retired the model once before but then resurrected it in the form of the New Beetle. And in fact the old Beetles lived on in countries like Mexico and Brazil. In Mexico, for example, I believe they only stopped manufacturing old Beetles in 2003, while in Brazil, they continued to be made until 2006.

I have owned 5 cars in my life. 3 of them were Beetles (old types). It’s the only car where I was able to take apart and put the engine together successfully. I lived in my Beetle for a summer in 1985.

The first bug I owned had been my mom’s before it was mine. We traveled in it across Canada in 1977. The car was known as “Betsy.”

Here is Betsy in Ontario in the summer of 77.

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Later I drove Betsy through 25 states and she died in the town of Normal, Illinois, in late 1985. I sold her to a kid named Derrick for $50.

My second bug had been my grandmother’s, and when she died in the late 80’s I inherited it. That car was known as “Rog.”

I had it with me until I was living in Philadelphia in 1997, when Michelle and I sold it because we were broke. It was a sad.

My third bug I bought when living in L.A. and Burbank in 2000. It was named “Vato,” because it was a very Mexican-seeming bug – it had been “lowered” and had one of those vato-ized, mini steering wheels. But it was a good car.

It caught on fire and died on the 134 Freeway near Glendale, I think, one day when my dad was driving it.

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Caveat: Tree #365

A year’s worth of trees. More or less.

I was with Arthur visiting his brother, my other uncle, Alan, in Colorado. I found myself struck by the stark trees in the snowscape there, and decided to take pictures of trees.

Without regret, I present a tree, one year on.

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I suppose some readers of this here blog thingy™ will feel that it’s a bit tedious and definitely lazy, all these trees. Where is the idiosyncratic, random content of old?

It still crops up, I guess. The character of the blog has evolved, over the years, there’s no denying. It’s more anodyne, now, in some respects. I’m sorry. I have come to appreciate the daily poems and trees as a way to ensure I get something posted every day, even when I’m uninspired. I lean on them as habits, to force a communication with a world that I otherwise would quickly neglect. Which is a way to say, “Sorry if the trees are boring, but they’re better than nothing at all, right?”

Have a happy new year.

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Caveat: Temperance

Some people know I mess with tarot cards.

I don’t believe them at all. I am an empiricist and a rationalist, and committed to that. But I also enjoy apophenia – the misreading of random data as meaningful. It strikes me as a deeply human trait. And my interest in tarot is probably related to that – in this random set of cards, we’ve imbued each card with many layers of semiotic detritus, and then we can plow through the cards and find some interesting meanings, perhaps leading to reflection.

Well I pulled a card to define my year, 2020. And got the card called “Temperance.”

I pulled a series of cards to to define my month, January, and the summary card was again “Temperance.”

I  guess I could consider temperance – what is it, exactly?

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Caveat: Tree #364

The weather wants to turn to snow, but it’s being quite wonky in the transition. Some rain, some snow, some rain again.

The trees are at a loss how to respond, and I did not wish to photograph them in their disarray. Plus it was quite windy outside.

Here is a tree from the archives. Korea, July, 2014.

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Caveat: hay montes

Penas (Verso XXXIV)

¡Penas! ¿Quién osa decir
Que tengo yo penas? Luego,
Después del rayo, y del fuego,
Tendré tiempo de sufrir.

Yo sé de un pesar profundo
Entre las penas sin nombres:
¡La esclavitud de los hombres
Es la gran pena del mundo!

Hay montes, y hay que subir
Los montes altos; ¡después
Veremos, alma, quién es
Quien te me ha puesto al morir!

- Jose Marti (poeta cubano, 1853-1895)

This poem was recently brought to my attention because my friend Bob asked if I could provide some insight and translation for the poem, for a choral production he’s working on that includes this text set to music. It seems not that different from other things I’ve blogged, and given how sparse my blog has been intellectually, of late, I thought I might as well post what I gave him here.

It’s important to separate who Martí actually was from the mythical being he’s been made into by subsequent generations of Cubans of all political stripes. He was a classical liberal, and in an aesthetic school called “modernismo” -not exactly the same as “modernism” because of different circumstances. He spent a lot of time in the US during various exiles from Cuba, and was heavily influenced by US poets such as Walt Whitman. He was no communist, but he was aware of Marx and I believe may have interacted some with socialists and communists and anarchists in Europe – you take your allies where you can find them. He did believe in universal human rights as that doctrine emerged from the wake of the abolition movements of the 19th century.

I do believe this poem is political. He was fighting for Cuban independence from Spain, inspired by the liberal fantasies (ideals) exemplified to whatever degree of accuracy by the US, Mexico, Guatemala – all countries where he spent time. So what he’s saying is that the time for self-pity is over. Stop complaining and get up and fight for your freedom, fellow Cubans = fellow humans everywhere. That’s how I interpret it. There are mountains we should be climbing, now, battles to be fought. We’ll let God sort out later who was good and who was bad.

Versos was published in 1891, and Martí died while leading Cuban freedom fighters in Cuba in 1895. His political program was quite mature at that point, and it would be hard to read the poem any more innocently.

Here is my own word-for-word translation.

Problems! Who dares to say
That I have problems? Later,
after the lightning-bolt, and the fire,
I'll have time to suffer.

I know about a deep regret
among the problems without names:
The enslavement of men
is the great regret of the world!

There are mountains, and there's need to climb
the high mountains; later
we shall see, soul, who [it] is
that has set you, for me, to die.

The key word, of course, is penas. I prefer the translation “problems” – it feels contemporarily idiomatic. Penas has a very wide semantic field: “pains” “sufferings” “sorrows” “guilt” “sins” “problems” etc. Especially in the context.

We deploy the word “problems” in modern English similarly. Cf rapper Jay-Z, “I got 99 problems ….”

I almost chose to translate it as “complaints” – to emphasize the fact that the tone of the poem (to me) is a bit of “Get off your butts, people, and DO something!”

Other vocabulary worth comment: pesar. Also fairly wide. I prefer “weight” to “regret” but that doesn’t work with the intensifier “deep”. Perhaps “heavy weight” rather than “deep regret.”

As a syntactician, I love the double (in)direct objects in the last line (“… te me …”) – what Spanish grammar is famous for, in stumping linguists and being a fairly famous example of something characteristically difficult about the language.

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