March 2005

What a wonderful word

Yesterday, Wordcraft Word of the Day sent a Fuegian word, one of the ten most untranslatable words. I can see why this one ranked so highly for difficulty. English has a blind spot for this concept.

mamihlapinatapei – a shared glance of longing between two people, each knowing the meaning and each wishing the other will initiate something where neither is quite willing to make the move.

It makes me wonder exactly how much unresolved sexual tension there is in Tierra del Fuego, or if anyone ever gets up to answer the phone.

Let there be Pain

In which a Lack of Vigilance leads to Damaged Seat Covers and a Lack of Intelligence leads to Pain.

All I need say is "large lead-lighting soldering iron, kitten, molten solder, short trousers," and you can probably work out the details for yourself. However, the little sadist that sits on your shoulder is probably begging for the subtle nuances of idiocy and consequent suffering.

After too many years of procrastination, I'm finally getting around to completing the last of five lead-light wall sconces for our lounge room. There's a large family event at our place next week, so there's a good reason to finish the last one (to keep MotherInLawOfVirge less dissatisfied). Today was soldering day. I'd done the assembly of the three panels this afternoon; this evening, time to connect them up into a three-dimensional light fitting. I turned on the big-mama soldering iron and left it on a scrap piece of board on the table. Lu-Tze jumped onto a chair and examined me and my work.

"No! Not for you, Lu-Tze!"

He kept looking. I brandished a water squirt-bottle to discourage him. He scampered off.

The iron was still warming, so I wandered off to the toilet. As I left the smallest room, I heard a thump... from where I'd been working... and a patter of paws. I sprinted. The soldering iron was off the table and on the seat, burning the seat cover and just starting to smoke. The cover now has a large black burn mark. Add it to the things that need replacing.

Later, while constructing the light fitting, I realized how stupid it was to stay in short trousers. I hadn't been bothered changing after coming home from the gym. Globs of molten tin-lead alloy stay hot for a number of seconds, even when they splash and spread out on a bare thigh. In the short time between landing and being frantically brushed off (complete with sound effects) they burn enough to raise welts. I've applied a burn gel and soft bandage, but it still hurts.

Satisfied, little sadists?

Life through the eyes of Virge

Just click here to see life through the eyes of Virge.

(Thanks to Pharyngula for the link.)


As I dressed this morning, I pondered recent news. A limerick started to form but it wasn't funny.

There's a place between heaven and hell
Where they've silenced the Liberty Bell--
Where the self-righteous lead
And the media feed
On the flesh of a final farewell.

Edit: I've changed my mind. It shouldn't even try to be a limerick. Perhaps a stretch-limo.

There's a place between heaven and hell
Where they've silenced the Liberty Bell;
Where the lawyers with greed
Help the powerless bleed;
Where the self-righteous lead,
Mixing state with their creed;
Where the bloated succeed
While the media feed
On the flesh of a final farewell.


And there are no letters in the mailbox,
and there are no grapes upon the vine,
and there are no chocolates in your boxes anymore,
and there are no diamonds in your mine.
L. Cohen

I'm quoting that song because that's exactly how I don't feel.

There are some days when words work so well together that I feel like a prospector striking a rich seam. Each extracted gem reveals a new intriguing or entertaining idea. The only effort required is cutting and polishing and setting in jewelry. I'll have something to show for my effort within a couple of weeks.

Of course, demands on my time mean that I can't keep on prospecting. When I return, will I find that seam again or the usual low-yield lode?


The stadium echoes every whispered move
and ghosts of chants reverberate unheard
so even when the crew have left for home
a stubborn, bleeding, crippled self-romance
can stumble blindly back into the ring
and raise one hand (unaided by the ref).


In the middle of my back I
feel the itch of an attack by
an annoying bitch mosquito
(which I guess still has to eat) so
watch the bulge distort my torso
like a molehill only more so;
wish I'd thought to take a photo
as I morph to Quasimodo--
just a hunch from Monsieur Hugo
to explain my bulging bubo
but my thoughtful diagnosis
isn't postural kyphosis;
no, my back grows a proboscis
and my sanity is lost 'cause
now I'm grunting like a proto-
lithic trog who's eaten toad or
found the magic of the mushrooms
makes his mutant back too much to
bear, so scratch! I swear the bump
will grow like Banner's bulk
beyond my shirt, this lump will
show its hulking hideous heinous
form, its aching itching gayness--
more than any man should suffer
(even if this man was tougher),
and the likeliest prognosis
is my hump's apotheosis,
to be swelling, all consuming
god-bump, hosting a small human...
so I beg you, quickly, quickly,
till my back is smeared and slick leave
no red wheal unturned or hacked, I mean,
Could you please scratch my back?