A Poem. Christmas is coming!

Day 26: Monday

Morning, Tim!

I’m getting excited for Christmas! We’re almost 12 days away, which could be time to start the 12 days of Christmas. But to my surprise, and contrary to everything I knew growing up, the 12 days of Christmas actually start on Christmas day and are the 12 days after.

That said, I’m still excited. Lots of decorations:

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It’s been a snowy wonderland:

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A Christmas poem for you:

A Christmas tree stood up with care

But topple down will it? A prayer:

will Sophocles stay

away or horseplay?

Please fill out this brief questionnaire.

 

And a poll:

Until tomorrow,

Zak

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Riddle of the Sphinx: The cat always knows

Day 24: Thursday

Morning, Tim!

First things first, I have some highly relevant news for you. In order to better curate cat photos and marinate on cat pun opportunities, I got a cat! Now, Tim, I know just what you might be thinking

WHAT?! YOU GOT A CAT JUST FOR THIS BLOG?!

Of course the answer is YES. Tim this level of humor takes dedication and time commitment. Of course next up will be continuing to grow my unique collection of spoons in order to build out unusual uses for them (we really should start a singular blog that captures that theme collectively…), but that’s for another time. So without further ado, I introduce you to Sophocles (who, coincidentally is a female cat and therefore goes by nicknames of Sophie and or Soph [long ‘o’ on both])

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Now I said at the beginning this is highly relevant because your question to me was about something she knows intimately.

You see, contrary to what you have suggested

No one can say for certain exactly what it was that the Sphinx asked Oedipus.

I think Sophocles knows because…well…(s)he crafted the story. So when you pose to me this challenge, this enigma:

Do you believe in sphinxes?

Of course I do. Seeing as I have the expert on matters relating to Oedipus and the Sphinx, I have it on good authority that sphinxes exist, and therefore I believe in them.

What I mean, of course, is that there are enigmas that challenge each of us. These enigmas, if we do not wrestle with and find a way to resolve them, can devour us. We spend our lives finding meaning — perhaps in the beauty around us, or capturing inspiring sounds and music. We find meaning in families, religion, helping others through volunteering or perhaps our careers.

Other of life’s puzzles deal not with finding meaning but rather making meaning of what’s been given. Failed attempts at humor, a plethora of other “why me” moments, or perhaps something more serious like a lost job in a changing world.

One way to find answers, to start to understand how to approach these puzzles is to read. Perhaps it’s Sophocles and an ancient play about a patricidal, incestuous, eye-gouging king or, hopefully in my case, something more instructive about how great thinkers discovered and understood (and, taken further and more interestingly, the societal implications of the discovery) of the gene. Whatever it is, there is a keen responsibility to read carefully, to think diligently.

But a reader, in the fullest sense of the word, is someone who assumes that a text contains hidden treasures worth searching for, someone who tries to uncover […]

Reading helps us understand how to think about and address our own enigmas.

Man I love reading.

Until tomorrow,

Zak

Plagiarizing Pick Up Lines

Day 19: Thursday

Good morning Zak,

As you know, I have a bird back home named Jerry.  Jerry is able to speak basic American English, but he has a heavy conure accent.  So far he has learned how to say “hi Jerry” and “hi there,” and he spends a lot of time repeating these phrases.  It seems like, for Jerry, these two greetings contain most of what he wants to express in life.

But let me ask you a question, Zak: what if this weren’t the case?  What if Jerry suddenly decided he wanted to learn more phrases?  For example, what if he learned how to say “I love you” or “I am a self-aware moral agent capable human-like empathy.”  This second phrase might be very cute to show people at parties, but should we believe what he’s saying?  Does the fact that English is Jerry’s second language effect the credibility of the things he asserts in it?

By the way, Zak, I just found this hilarious cat picture online:

Speaking of second languages, when I learned ancient Greek, I spent a lot more time than I normally would writing about “the boy leading the oxen through the field.”  This is a fairly interesting topic.  I could maybe justify writing a page or two about it; as I remember it, though, my Greek writing for the first couple months expressed an almost obsessive fixation with boys, fields, and oxen.  It was all I ever talked about.  “The boy leads the oxen through the field.”  “The boy plows the field leading the oxen.”  “The field would about to have been plowed if the boy were to lead the oxen through the field in order to plow it.”

Zak, while these sentences were all great works of literature, do you really think readers should have believed that they expressed my genuine sentiments about boys plowing fields with oxen?  Of course, in normal life, language is clearly not about parroting back phrases you’ve heard somewhere else.  If that were the case, every online blog would be fixated on the same things—like cats or inspirational catch-phrases or Fw: Fw: Fw: How I Made a Fortune Blogging and Hilarious Prank Gone Wrong!!!!

For some people love and dating is a fixation like this.  I am given to understand that boys, when they’re not plowing fields, sometimes speak a second language to pick up girls.  (On which, see bizarrelovetriangleblog)

When I first came to Italy I sometimes would accidentally use words or phrases that were either archaic or very formal.  This was because most of my Italian up to that point had come from books and literature I had read, some of which was very old.

This made for some awkward conversations…

I’d meet people and they’d ask, “so what’s your story?” but then they wouldn’t believe me when I started to answer, “midway through the journey of our life, I found myself in a dark wood…”  I didn’t understand the problem; it seemed to me like a perfectly reasonable answer. If an inspirational blogger ever tells you to be true to thine own self… I won’t say they’re being inauthentic, but it is possible they’ve learned English from reading Shakespeare.

For some English speakers, when they think of Italy the first thing that comes to mind is Dante, for others it’s more or less spaghetti ? I think that’s what that is.

Maybe Jerry should start a blog.

Until tomorrow,

Tim

Over-hydrating Plums; Kittens; Hashtags (again)

Day 16: Monday

Morning, Tim!

I’m glad to see you are back to your senses (at least taste…I do love a good cup of Earl Grey!)

I’m not sure I’m satisfied with your explanation about latin phrases, but I will take this opportunity to enlighten you about my weekend. While visiting family (again!) I came upon two kittens. While they smelled a bit like res, they were utterly adorable, and I knew immediately you’d want me to capture a picture for you!

cf.cats cf.cuteandcuddly cf.icantevenhandleit

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I also had a very good discussion while home regarding something I believe you to be keenly interested in. Naturally, we discussed purple fruits.

First we discussed grapes and raisins. Grapes are delicious. They can be made into wine (more delicious) or grape juice (still good). Raisins are also fine, but they are dried grapes. There is no raisin juice (makes sense…they are dried grapes).

Then we discussed plums and prunes. Plums are good. Prunes are…useful. But you don’t typically get plum juice, you get prune juice. What?! That doesn’t make any sense. Prunes are dried plums. Why aren’t we making juice from the juicy version of the fruit?

Just when you thought I was going to be done talking about purple fruits though…

So Tim, you know your hands can get pruney, perhaps by washing dishes for a long time or taking a lengthy soak in the tub? Some suggest this happens naturally to help with grip but that’s pretty irrelevant to this discussion. Importantly, it occurs when you are overexposed to water. That’s the exact opposite way we currently make prunes. Yet I think I’ve provided sufficient evidence suggesting you could go from plums to prunes by over-hydrating and dehydrating. Where was THIS when I was looking for a science fair project?

Sometimes as I write, I imagine my future employer coming across this blog…

I do wonder about this as well. I assume you are referencing this in hopes they do come across to see the deep, rigorous analytical thinking you’ve done in the past. I think my above logic speaks for itself.

Loved the perfume, Tim – keep it fresh.

Until tomorrow,

Zak