lasting impressions and life goals

seagull shadow

In addition to being the 11th anniversary of my blog, yesterday also marked the 10th anniversary of a dear friend’s death.

My friend Elizabeth continues to be one of my personal heroes. She was an extraordinary person, but chose to live an ordinary life. Or at least what might appear from a distance to be an ordinary life. She didn’t seek fame or fortune, but valued the richness of her life, her friends, her family, and the many things in life that brought her joy. She was witty and insightful. She was warm and kind and incredibly supportive, but could show biting sense of humor. She cared deeply and passionately about the world, but also loved to let loose and get silly.

She died far too young, and I feel her loss still. There have been so many things over the past 10 years that I have wanted to share with her. To discuss, to celebrate, to lament.


I know that I am not the only one who continues to miss her. She had an impact on so many who knew and loved her. Her impact was not from any single great feat or action, but from the sum of countless moments of connection with others.

Her life was indeed extraordinary.

off the top of my head

Hi! Remember me? Wow, it’s been ages since we last talked. It seems like years. Has it really been only a couple weeks? What have you been up to? Yeah? Man, I had no idea they could do that. With gouda even? Seriously, I’m constantly amazed by the power of cheese. I was thinking about you earlier today when I was going about my business. No, not that business. Sheesh. No, I think I was driving or ironing toilet paper or staring at my toes, or whatever it is that I do most of the time. It was getting close to lunch time, and I had this intense craving for ramen noodles. Which naturally led to me thinking about brains. And then zombies. Then mummies. And then dust bunnies. And then Welsh rabbit. So naturally I couldn’t help but remember that time when you got caught with the…ha ha ha, yeah. We totally don’t need to go there. Oh, you already went there. Again? Did they recognize you without your…Oh. Sorry about that. Didn’t mean to bring up such a sore subject. Right, right. I understand. Beach balls and ninjas. Say no more. Well, I’d better go. I have a lot of stuff I need to do. There’s a whole pile of lentils that I need to alphabetize. Good talkin’ with ya.

So, um, yeah. It’s been a while. Things have been crazy. Here’s a few things that I could write lots more about, except I should probably sleep instead:

    • We finally moved Theo into Phoebe’s room a couple of weeks ago. It’s been going really well.

    • I’m heading to Chicago next week for a conference. Solo.

    • I have a lot of stuff to do before I leave.

    • My poison ivy is still healing, over 4 full weeks after initial exposure.

    • Phoebe started preschool this week, and Theo started going to daycare 5 days a week. (Phoebe will be at the preschool 3 days, and at the old daycare with Theo two days.) This new schedule will give me 2 more days a week to do my work. Or alphabetize lentils.

    • I’m not really getting into Twitter. My romance with Facebook is flagging. I’m considering breaking up with both and taking up smoke signals.

    • I’d really hoped to resume last year’s “merry merry month of metablogging” this May. But seeing as I have so much going on, I probably won’t manage.

    • There are other weightier things on my brain that I can’t get into here. Imagine, if you will, my cartoon brain with a large cartoon anvil on top. Now put a cartoon elephant on top.

    • Finally, here’s a picture of Theo as a little baby with an octopus on his head. Actually, I don’t really have a lot to say about this.

Oh, and one more final last thing. Can you identify this movie quote?

When you can balance a tack hammer on your head, you will head off your foes with a balanced attack.

hope (PhotoHunt)

Waiting for the train.
Waiting for the train.

There is a certain magic for me about the beginning of a journey. Once I can leave behind the stress of packing and the anxiety that I may forget something crucial (Do I have the tickets? Wallet? Passport? Did I leave the stove on?), the excitement about the travel ahead is allowed free reign. I look forward to the new and varied experiences. Seeing new sights, or revisiting old sights with eyes that have changed. Hearing the sounds, smelling the smells, tasting the foods. I love the process of travel itself, that physical sense of forward motion.

The anticipation that I’m going to get somewhere feels a lot like hope.

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.
–Robert Louis Stevenson

Having come across this quote while poking around for inspiration for this week’s Photo Hunt theme of “hope,” I thought to offer up a photo that suggests the hopefulness of a journey’s beginning.

The train station photo above is another one that I took on our 2007 trip to Europe. Shown is our luggage on the platform of the train station in Saarbrücken, Germany, as we waited for the train to Paris.

the pants of our discontent

Summer is here, at least for those of us up on this side of the equator. Summer signals a range of things. Picnics and barbecues. Trips to the beach and dips in the pool. Berry picking. Hotter temperatures. Longer days. Shorter pants.

And in some places, as Mad reminds, Shakespeare festivals.

While the bard himself may have covered his esteemed rear end with garments cut of another fashion, he no doubt would have come to love pants had he lived in our day and age. We can only imagine the great things that Shakespeare might have written had he lived in an age of pants.¹

Without further ado, and with all due respect, I offer to you a glimpse of some pants that might have been.²

Shakespeare’s Pants

  • How poor are they that have not pants!
    Iago, Othello (II, iii, 376-379)
  • We are such stuff as pants are made on
    Prospero, The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158
  • Frailty, thy name is pants!
    Hamlet, Hamlet Act 1, scene 2, 142–146
  • The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in our pants, that we are underlings.

    Cassius, Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)
  • Love looks not with the eyes but with the pants.
    Helena, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (I, i, 234)
  • Out, damn’d pants! out, I say!
    Lady Macbeth, Macbeth Act 5, scene 1, 26–40
  • A plague a’ both your pants!
    Mercutio, Romeo And Juliet Act 3, scene 1, 90–92
  • A soothsayer bids you beware the pants of March.
    Brutus, Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15–19
  • Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with pants.
    Hero, Much Ado About Nothing (III, i, 106)
  • Be not afraid of pants
    Malvolio, Twelfth Night (II, v, 156-159)
  • And thus I clothe my naked villany
    With odd old pants stol’n out of holy writ

    Richard, King Richard III (I, iii, 336-338)
  • Give me my pants, put on my crown
    Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra (V, ii, 282-283)
  • My pants fly up, my thoughts remain below.
    King, Hamlet (III, iii, 100-103)
  • Something is rotten in the pants of Denmark.
    Marcellus, Hamlet Act 1, scene 4, 87–91
  • There are more pants in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

    Hamlet, Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 159–167
  • Quotes, or at least the pants-less versions of them, harvested from this site.

    ¹ And had he been an utter loon.

    ² It’s been a long time since I’ve shared my pants with you. Truth is, I’ve been sitting on these pants for many months.

    chocolate-coated list


    Halloween is just around the corner, and this means a bunch of things. Costumes. Parties. Spooky decorations. Getting the crap scared out of you at fun “family” activities. But for a lot of people it’s all about the candy. And while there are loads of types of yummy sugar-coma-inducing candies out there filling up those plastic pumpkins, chocolate is the treat most trick-or-treaters prize the most. So I give you a ThThTh list that’s chock-full of chocolate. Enjoy!

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
    A children’s novel. Also the 2005 movie starring ever-versatile Johnny Depp, as well as Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), starring Gene Wilder, both based on the Roald Dahl novel. The factory has a chocolate river.
  • Chocolat (2000)
    Again with Johnny Depp, and this time with Juliette Binoche. About a woman who opens a chocolate shop in a French village. Based on the novel Chocolat by Joanne Harris.
  • “Chocolate,” by Snow Patrol (video on YouTube)
  • Hot Chocolate, a 70’s band best known for the song “You Sexy Thing” (YouTube video)
  • Como agua para chocolate/Like Water for Chocolate. The book by Laura Esquivel, and the 1992 movie based on the same. Also an expression:

    The phrase “like water for chocolate” comes from the Spanish “como agua para chocolate”. This phrase is a common expression in Spanish speaking countries and was the inspiration for Laura Esquivel’s novel title (the name has a double-meaning).
    In some Latin American countries, such as Mexico, hot chocolate is made not with milk, but with water instead. Water is boiled and chunks of milk chocolate are dropped in to melt. The saying “like water for chocolate,” alludes to this fact and also to the common use of the expression as a metaphor for describing a state of passion or sexual arousal. In some parts of Latin America, the saying is also equivalent to being ‘boiling mad’ in anger.

  • The Chocolate Touch, by Patrick Skene Catling. A kids’ book based on the tale of King Midas, whose touch would turn things to gold. In this case, a boy’s touch turns things into chocolate.
  • Band Candy This Buffy episode is one of my favorites. All students at the high school must sell chocolate bars in support of the school band, but eating the chocolate makes adults behave like teenagers.
  • I Love Lucy Episode 39 – “Job Switching” (aka the “Candy Factory” episode). Lucy and Ethel get a job in a chocolate factory, and can’t keep up with the conveyor belt, leading to much laughtrack laughter. (YouTube video)
  • My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” A quote from “Forrest Gump“. (Also from the novel by Winston Groom.)
  • “Happiness is” by the Violent Femmes

    I don’t know what one means by happy
    I’m happy spasmodically
    If I eat a chocolate turtle I’m happy
    When the box is empty I’m unhappy
    When I get another box
    I’m happy again

  • chocolate_bar-1.jpg

    You want the pants? You can’t handle the pants.

    Well, maybe you can handle the pants. In fact, I’ve promised pants. And I’ve given pants. And I think that you deserve more pants.

    In the great tradition of the pants game, I offer to you the following great movie pants movie moments:

    • “Go ahead, make my pants.” — Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood), Sudden Impact (1983)
    • “You can’t handle the pants!” — Col. Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson), A Few Good Men (1992)
    • “May the Pants be with you.” — Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Star Wars (1977)
    • “Fasten your pants. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” — Margo Channing (Bette Davis), All About Eve (1950)
    • “The stuff that pants are made of.” — Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart), The Maltese Falcon (1941)
    • “Show me the pants!” — Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise), Jerry Maguire (1996)
    • “I have always depended on the pants of strangers.” — Blanche Dubois (Vivien Leigh), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
    • “Round up the usual pants.” — Capt. Louis Renault (Claude Rains), Casablanca (1942)
    • “Pants? We ain’t got no pants! We don’t need no pants! I don’t have to show you any stinking pants!” — “Gold Hat” (Alfonso Bedoya), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
    • “Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the pants.” — Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis), Now, Voyager (1942)
    • “Keep your friends close, but your pants closer.” — Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), The Godfather: Part II (1974)
    • “Get your stinking pants off me, you damned dirty ape.” — George Taylor (Charlton Heston), Planet of the Apes (1968)
    • “We’ll always have pants.” — Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), Casablanca (1942)

    speaking of mice and men

    Actually, I guess we were speaking of mice and cheese. (We were also speaking of “Of Mice and Cheese“.)

    What I’m talking about now are those best-laid plans. As in “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” And here’s something I learned about this quote.

    The saying is adapted from a line in “To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

    Anyhow, various schemes have gone a-gley, as it were.

    John had a scheme that we would go out to dinner to celebrate mother’s day, but that didn’t work out. John’s dad has had a couple of rough days, leading us to conclude that John’s mom wouldn’t want to take the time away from visiting hours.

    Our original plan was to head home last night, however the roughness of the days for John’s dad led us to decide to push back our departure till today. I had my violin lesson scheduled for Monday at 5:00, so the plan was to be on the road by noon.

    Our revised plan for the evening was to get take-out, and enjoy the feast at (John’s parents’) home. However, my grand scheme to eat food from my favorite restaurant in the universe has been thwarted. Those cruel folks are closed on Sundays! Noooo! (I at least got some enjoyment from reading the menu, and making plans for our feast before making the discovery of the restaurant’s startling lack of openness. Perhaps later I will post what we were going to order.)

    John’s dad had an even rougher afternoon than anticipated, and has been transferred to another hospital as of yesterday afternoon. So John and his mother’s plans to be home in the middle of the night and get a good night’s sleep were somewhat adjusted, and replaced with a revised plan of waiting around in an emergency room, and not returning home until 3 in the morning.

    The resulting lack of sleep led us to revise our plans for departure a bit, and I have rescheduled my violin lesson plan for later this week.

    Happily, John’s dad has responded well to the treatment in the new hospital. So our new plan is to head out this afternoon, stop by the hospital and arrive home late tonight.

    my favorite movie quotes

    I like movies. And I like to quote things. I like to make lists. (I also like to enter //engtech group writing projects, and this latest one asks for posts about movies.) So here’s a list of movies I like to quote, and quotes from those movies.

    My favorite movies to quote (and quotes from those movies)

  • Best in Show (2000)
    A movie about dogs and dog owners. Well, really more about the people than the dogs. But there is a dog show. And you do see dogs in the movie. But the dogs don’t have so much to say, so I haven’t quoted them.

    • “We met at Starbucks. Not at the same Starbucks but we saw each other at different Starbucks across the street from each other.”
    • I’ve been know to confuse people by stating “we both like soup.” Here’s a bit more of the quotation, from an interview with a character describing her relationship with her husband:
      “We have so much in common, we both love soup and snow peas, we love the outdoors, and talking and not talking. We could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about.”
  • Cold Comfort Farm (1995)
    One of my favorite movies. It’s got quite a few quotable bits, most of which involve a bit of performance.

    • “Everybody loves poetry” (Or, “evereh-bodeh loves poetreh”)
    • “I saw something nasty in the woodshed. Something nasty.”
    • “There’ll be no butter in hell!”
    • I also try to throw the word “scrattling” into conversations on occasion.
  • This is Spinal Tap (1984)
    The groundbreaking rock mockumentary, or mock rockumentary. Who hasn’t taken the opportunity to point out when something “goes up to eleven“? (Because, obviously, that’s one higher than ten.)

    Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and…
    Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
    Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
    Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it’s louder? Is it any louder?
    Nigel Tufnel: Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
    Marty DiBergi: I don’t know.
    Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
    Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
    Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
    Marty DiBergi: Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
    Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

  • “A Fistful of Yen” from Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
    An Enter the Dragon parody of extraodinary magnitude.

    • “But it would be wrong(This is from a scene when Loo is visited in his quarters by a scientist he has been sent to rescue. As he starts to explain his plans, she indicates that his room has been bugged, and points out a series of larger and larger “hidden” microphones. After he explains how their escape plans would be feasible, he says loudly into a nearby microphone “but it would be wrong.”)
    • “tough and ruthless” vs “rough and toothless” (From this line: “This is Buttkiss, Klahn’s bodyguard – he is tough and ruthless. This is Kwong, Klahn’s chauffeur – he is rough and toothless.”)

    (In case you’ve never seen “Fistful of Yen,” here’s a small taste that’s available on YouTube: the alarm scene.

  • The Princess Bride (1987)
    This is, without a doubt, my favorite movie to quote. (Also a great book to movie adaptation.) At one point, I could practically quote the whole thing. But I will spare you that, and just offer up a few choice bits. (If you’re itching for more, try the quotes listed on imdb. Or better yet, watch the movie.)

    • “Inconceivable.”
      “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
    • “Am I going mad, or did the word “think” escape your lips? You were not hired for your brains, you hippopotamic land mass.”
    • Here’s another handy insult to offer up: “you warthog-faced buffoon”
    • Then there’s the incomprehensible quote by Billy Crystal as Miracle Max, as he express excitement over his opportunity to exact revenge: “I’m gonna xxx”. Some have suggested “I’m gonna [lick the dalmatian]”
    • “Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist.”
    • “Mawwiage. Mawwiage if what bwingv uf togevuh today… That bweffed awwangement, a dweam wifim a dweam.”
    • “liar! liar!”
      “Get back, witch.”
      “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife. But after what you just said, I’m not even sure I want to be that any more.”
    • And last, but not least, probably everybody’s favorite:
      “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
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    morning bowl of flakes

    Last week, I told you about a book I have in my collection written by none other than J. H. Kellogg, a book of “plain facts” about sex which offers inadvertent amusement on nearly every page. Last week, I offered up some choice bits I’d found. And as a game, I asked for people to give me numbers so that we could look for something entertaining from those pages. We had 5 participants, who each requested 1 or 2 numbers each. Here are the results:

    maverick roark requested pages 3 and 12. Page 3 is the title page, which I’ve typed out in entirety.

    Plain Facts for Old and Young by J. H. Kellogg, M. D.
    Member American Public Health Association, American Society for the Advancement of Science, American Society of Microscopy, Member Mich. State Board of Health, Medical Superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitrium, Author of Numerous Works of Health, Etc.
    Published by I. F. Segner, Burlington, Iowa, 1882.

    Just so we know he’s qualified to say that sex should be avoided.

    Page 12 gets you this bit from the table of contents:

    The Social Evil.
    Unchastity of the ancients–Causes of the “social evil” –Libidinous blood–Gluttony–Precocious sexuality–Man’s lewdness–Fashion…

    NotSoSage requested a bit from page 323. This one is from the chapter called “Solitary Vice”:

    The entrance of a single corrupt boy into a school which may have been previously pure–though such schools must be extrememy rare–will speedily corrupt almost the entire membership. The evil infection spreads more rapidly than the contagion of smallpox or yellow fever, and it is scarcely less fatal.

    Mind you, we’re not actually talking about an STD or some such here, we’re talking about the spread of the “solitary vice” itself.

    ericalee requested pages 46 and 72. These are from the chapter “Sex in Living Forms”, which actually does seem to contain some fairly scientific information. Page 46 is mostly about plants:

    Nothing is more interesting in the natural world than the wonderful beauty, diversity, and perfect adaptaility to various conditions and functions, which we see in the sexual parts of plants.

    He does get a bit excited about plant sex…

    Page 72 covers male anatomy:

    As the production of seminal fluid is more or less constant in man and some animals, while its discharge is intermittent, the vesiculae seminales serve as reservoirs for the fluid, preserving it until required, or allowing it to undergo absorption.

    Hmm…I didn’t really find anything amusing on this page. Perhaps someone with more knowledge of anatomy would, though.

    bs requested page 208, which is in the chapter “Incontinence”:

    No continent man need be deterred by this apocryphal fear of atrophy of the testes, from living a chaste life. It is a device of the unchaste–a lame excuse for their own incontinence, unfounded on any physical law.

    I hadn’t realized how old the expression “a lame excuse” was…

    jwbates requested 69, which is also from the “Sex in Living Forms” chapter:

    We have sufficient evidence of this in the fact that among barbarian women, who are generally less perverted physically than civilized women, childbirth is regarded with very little apprehension, since it occasions little pain or inconvenience.

    Yes, well, you know how barbarians are…it’s amazing they notice at all when they’ve just given birth.

    Okay, them’s the numbers you requested. Thank you for playing. Come play again with me soon. (Because as we learn from Kellogg, you wouldn’t want to play with yourself.) If you throw some more numbers (between 1 and 512) at me, I’ll offer up some more nuggets next week. We’ve barely scratched the surface!