~ Saturday, January 24, 2004 ~
Cute music about science--for free! :)
~ Sunday, January 18, 2004 ~
If you go to http://www.acme.com/jef/science_songs/, you can download and hear a whole bunch of songs about various scientific topics by Tom Glazer and Dottie Evans, kindly recorded and encoded from the original record by Mr. Jef Poskanzer, to whom I am very grateful. They're intended to introduce children to said topics, but they're also (some of them) really catchy. (Some are laughably corny, but that's part of their charm.) By the by, these are the folks who wrote Why Does The Sun Shine and A Shooting Star Is Not A Star, which TMBG later covered.
I think someone needs to clue Richard in. Some of these are danceable. The longitude/latitude song is to the tune of Ach, Du Liebe Augustin, and is thus a waltz. :)
Current Music: Jets, Tom Glazer and Dottie Evans
~ prattled by Miriam at 7:40 p.m. [+]
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I saw an advertisement for the School of Practical Philosophy in the subway a few days ago, and actually remembered to check out the website. From it I have gleaned the following choice quotes:
The weekly topics include:
Using a simple exercise to connect to the present moment.
Discovering your true nature; reaching your full potential;
Whatâ€™s in the way?
Who am I? What is this creation? And what is my relationship to it?
Letting go of worry, doubt, and fear.
The true use of mind.
The Unchanging and Eternal.
Increasing your awareness.
Going beyond the limits of ego - Being Free.
Philosophy In Action:
Near the end of the term, students are invited to the Schoolâ€™s country property for a day of Philosophy in Action. In a quiet, beautiful environment, students have the opportunity to practice the principles they have received in class.
Practical Philosophy continues after our Introductory Course with classes that advance and guide students to open their awareness more fully and connect more deeply within themselves. Students may stay as long as they like; for a term, a year, or a lifetime.
With each continuing class the mechanisms and ideas which limit the view we have of our Self and of the world weaken and fall away. The exercises become more potent and students find they are distracted less and are more easily able to focus their attention fully. After a few terms the practice of meditation is offered, providing a vehicle for a keen clarity and the very deep inner peace that is the heart of our true nature.
Maybe I'm growing too sceptical, but this organization just seems to smack of cultishness to me. They'll take the students to their private country property where they can practice the ideas they've learned? That's kind of spooky. It's also weird that their logo looks so much like the old logo for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...not the new one, which makes the J.C. more prominent, but the old one that showed up in shimmery gold lettering at the end of the "who broke my window?" commercials, and others. Isn't it odd that a philosophy school would want to present itself in the same way as a particularly image-conscious flavor of Christianity? (Hmph. I would link to an example of the old LDS church logo, but it doesn't seem to exist anywhere online, not even on the wikipedia. Gone without leaving a trace...image conscious, indeed.)
Ah. I might have been right. This isn't proof, but it's certainly curious.
Current Music: Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin
~ prattled by Miriam at 10:39 p.m. [+]
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one more verse
~ Thursday, January 15, 2004 ~
Actually not so much a verse as just another possible way to relyricise the chorus.
I went to the Shilo,
To Franckie and Jastrow, (1)
I called for Devorah (2),
But she's baffled also
There's more than one entry for these phrases
Printed in this book of mine
And the more I look up verbs in the infinitive (3)
The less I can define
The less I can define
(1) Dictionaries we use. Shilo, a gift from Jennifer when I started Drisha, is my favorite, because it's so compact, fast, and easy on the eyes, but the entries have very little detail or history, and it's mainly Biblical and modern Hebrew, with minimal Talmudic Hebrew and only occasional Aramaic. It's good for looking up roots, though. Franck's is a dictionary specifically for study of Talmud. My second-favorite, it's very useful for cracking the abbreviations and particularly jargonish terms. It's also small enough that it doesn't take forever to look up a single word. Jastrow is the most scholarly, the most complete, the most fully cross-referenced, the heaviest, the most awkward, the one with the tiniest print, the one most likely to have the entry for your word refer you to another entry which will refer you to a third entry which will refer you to a fourth entry before you actually get to read the translation (I hate that), the most informative, and the most annoying. On the other hand, it will occasionally supplement its definition of some term or phrase with an example taken from the very text we're trying to understand. It will then supply, as part of the entry, the translation for not only that phrase but also the rest of the quote. This is known as a Jastrow Bonus. Jastrow Boni trigger the popping of champagne and the falling of confetti, which is all good, but I still can't stand using the dictionary. There's also several others in the canon of dictionaries: Brown-Driver-Briggs (aka BDB), which is bigger, more awkward, and more scholarly than Jastrow, but newer and more legibly printed; the dictionary of abbreviations which I just call the Roshei Tevot (which means "abbreviations") because I don't know the full name; the Konkordantzya (that's Hebrew for "concordance") which isn't exactly a dictionary but tells us where in Tanach every single word appears, and is used as a fall-back when the dictionary isn't good enough.
(2) Devorah Zlochower is the wonderful director of full time programs at Drisha. She also teaches us Gemara in the mornings. She knows everything, and everybody who works with her loves her.
(3) Actually, we look them up in the third-person-singular, past-tense, but sometimes I sacrifice truth for the sake of felicitous arrangement of words. Young man, let that be a lesson to you. (4)
Current Music: The Drastic, Vivid History of Monahan O'Han, Sylvia Fine (in my head)
~ prattled by Miriam at 12:02 p.m. [+]
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Do you find this funny? Or is it just me?
~ Saturday, January 10, 2004 ~
Many of the people at Drisha have been getting a little sick, and today Talia came in with a voice like a phone sex girl. Jarah, who studies with me in Rabbi Stavisky's rabbinics class on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, was quietly singing the chorus to "Closer to Fine" during a break and suggested that Talia (who was sitting next to us) join in with the harmony. Talia laughed her patent "What am I, stupid? I didn't grow up on Long Island for nothing!" laugh and reminded Jarah of the current state of her voice. Jarah, who is from Miami and has a somewhat more understated demeanor, laughed back, "Yeah, but that's the best time to sing Indigo Girls!" Instead, though, Jarah taught me the harmony part. Later that day, with that melody in my ear and Talmud on the brain, I jotted this down:
I went to the Mishna,
I learned (1) the Gemara,
I looked at the Rashi,
I read from the Torah(2).
There's more than one answer to this question(3),
Making me draw a blurry line(4),
And the more I search the source (5) for some definitive
The closer I am to blind
The closer I am to blind
(1) Study : College :: Learn : Drisha. We're just that much more efficient.
(2) What tickles me is that this even happens to be in the standard order. First we read a teaching from some rabbi or other, called a mishnah. (The Mishnah, with a capital M, is the book that has all these mishnayot together in one place.) Then we attempt to plow through the generally rather opaque commentary on that mishnah, which is called a gemara (mishnah : Mishnah :~: gemara : Gemara). Next we try to figure out what the heck the gemara is saying by looking at Rashi's comments. "Look at the Rashis" is as much a local turn of phrase as "learn the gemaras". If the mishnah or gemara quotes any verses in Tanach--an acronym meaning Torah (five books of Moses), Nevi'im (prophets), and K'tuvim (writings), what the rest of you call the Old Testament--we then read that verse and the ones surrounding it to understand the context. Understanding context occasionally helps, and occasionally muddies the waters further. The rabbis felt free to take quotes out of context in the interest of proving their points. Yay.
(3) The canon of rabbis was an opinionated bunch. In fact, the whole point of the Gemara, as far as I can tell, is to record their disagreements, or machlokot, about what a phrase means or how a law ought to be interpreted.
(4) The machlokot are rarely resolved, so the reader is generally left to figure out the practical implications by himself or herself.
(5) "Source" is another technical term. Instead of referring to the people who responded with commentaries to Tanach, Mishnah, Gemara, etc. as "people who have acted as sources of information and explanation," they're just called "sources". Yes, it's lazy speech, but it adds flavor. :)
By the way, this bevy of commentators--Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ramban, Rashbam, etc.--are no less opinionated than the canon of rabbis whose ideas are recorded in the Gemara. In particular, Ramban, who lived later than Rashi, almost never agrees with him, and likes to subtly tell us exactly where Rashi can stick his commentaries before presenting his own pearls of wisdom.
~ prattled by Miriam at 9:52 p.m. [+]
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Why the Victorian ladies wore layers and layers of petticoats.
~ Thursday, January 08, 2004 ~
Yesterday was the wrong day to wear a skirt. When I left my apartment to go to services at B'nai Jeshurun on Friday, I was almost entirely covered by two layers of clothing, and my hair was ever so slightly damp. By the time I arrived, I had lost almost all feeling in my legs, and all the hair not inside the hat was frozen rigid, which was actually kind of nifty because I could make some of the locks stand out horizontally, and it kept itself very nicely contained instead of doing the usual chia head thing. When I returned I discovered it had been 8 degrees outside. I love my heating pipes more than ever.
Oh, yeah: I'm going to have post-birthday clever tunefulness after all: for some reason the box office sells out before the people who sell tickets online do. I wonder why. Maybe that's like the idea shared with me some time ago, of having two storage chambers in your stomach, one for dinner and one for dessert, so that it's possible to be unable to eat another bite of cooked carrots or squash, but still salivate at the aroma of blackberry cobbler. Anyway, for a slightly higher price (service charge and all) I now have two tickets to Monday's show, one for me and one for Rob. :)
Current Music: Buckaroo Holiday, Copland
~ prattled by Miriam at 6:41 p.m. [+]
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A vain search for shoes, with long interruptions (also vain)
Yay, another extension from JTS's benevolent Rabbi Puppydog! Time to get back to writing now. But first, a journal entry.
Graham sent me today's installment of Zits (about deadlines) and it's totally going on my desktop. I love your taste in cartoons, Graham. Thanks.
I have a reputation at Drisha that I like, thanks mostly to Talia, one of my study partners. I'm the polka dancer. I'm also the California Liberal one, and the philosophically inclined one, and the stupidly excitable one, and the one who only remembers to keep her mouth shut *after* the obnoxious remark slips out, but mostly, I'm the polka dancer. I don't mind a bit, except that it means no one else there is really in the sort of world where they wouldn't be horribly shy about dancing with me. At least there's swing dancing around here.
By the way, my right hip is sore. It has been sore since Sunday. I went swing dancing on Sunday for the first time in months, practically, and stayed for the whole evening. I also met a few nice people, one of whom actually knew what Drisha was (because he spent some time at Chovevei) and his fiancee, and his friend, a fellow named George, who was happy to bounce around and do assisted jumps with me, occasionally without much warning and sometimes as a technique to clear space around us on a crowded dance floor, which was scary, but on the other hand, WHEEEEE!!! As a result I may have put a little more enthusiasm into my dancing in general (and my sugar feet in particular) than usual...but that the dancing should lead to hip soreness is not something I'm prepared to admit.
Speaking of not dancing enough, I see that there's a jammix on Friday. Monica and Ryan's performance group (rebaptised yet again, I see) is doing a jazz cotillion, "a mixture of 19th-century quadrille figures and lindy hop". Hey, west coast kids, you feel that wave of heat? Yeah, that's me radiating envy. Even if I could go, I couldn't go. :( I need to start a Wednesday night jammix in New York.
I am having a snack, a variation on an old classic: green apple slices dipped in Tostitos organic salsa, medium heat. Yummy. Pommes de terre minus the de terre.
I am also listening to Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy, which rocks me. BAHM-buhbuh-BAHM-buhbuh-BAHM-boodaloodela-DAH-dada-DAHM-BAHM!! The boodaloodelas are the best part.
Speaking of dancing, again, I still need to go buy dance shoes. Jazz slippers (I never did find them before I left CA) *and* dance sneakers, because the ones Neal gave me are so non-stick at this point that every time I try to do a quick jump-and-turn during Maura on the Moor (a Ring O' Bells original that we were working on at practice last night) I either slipped or did a really sad and wimpy lift-and-turn-and-then-jump-a-little thing. Bad. But the nice thing about Ring O' Bells practice last night is that a few of the in-town-for-the-holidays college students were there again, and they're both extremely cool. Testament to their coolth is that they invited me to join the Wayward Youths, a group of college-age morrissy dancers who pile in a bus and dance their toes off for a week and a half in summer, so that's where I'll be from June 2nd till June 12th. This time, we're starting here in NY and touring southward. Good thing I didn't book a flight home yet...I could fly out of Charlottesville instead of New York. :)
Maybe I'll buy the shoes tomorrow afternoon. I meant to get them today, but instead, bought some other things when I was trying to find the dance stores. I remembered a Capezio store on Broadway somewhere between 50th and 59th, so immediately after Drisha, downtown I went, after a "brief" stop "along" the "way" at 8th St. and Lafayette to hear the nice lady at Joe's Pub's box office tell me that the TMBG show the day after my birthday is sold out. :~( Boo. I couldn't even manage to console myself with dance shoes because I couldn't find the darn store. Instead I was sucked into another shoe store because I've been needing to buy boots for a long time, and they had boots in the window of the desired height (high, so I can go play in the snow and not just walk through the streets) and with the desired level of waterproofth (also high), and with the desired price (not high, so I still have an apartment to go back to when I'm finished playing in the snow). The little easel thingie on the display shelf announced, "Sale! $39.99! Not bad for high boots. I loitered outside for a moment longer, eyeing them, and then went in, It was very much like other shoestores: there was the loud cheesy music, bright lights, and the dissastisfied heavy lady sitting on the bench, with her feet spilling out of a small shoe, and her quiet husband looking concerned, and the salesman doing his best to make a sale. "Yes, but in the warm-weathered countries, you won't want to be wearing any socks. You'll want your feet exposed to the air." Are they going on vacation to Fiji? I went and found the boots on the sales table and, when there was a pause in his pitch, asked to see them in size 9.5. "Yes, in just a moment," he said, dropping face for a moment and looking harried and stressed. Being a salesperson must be a sad job.
The boots go up to midcalf, and were big in the ankle, rather snug at the top, and not very stiff. Studies indicate that there may be a lot of unwanted downward crunching. On the other foot, they have a zipper, feel cushy, and are burgandy pleather. Vinyl? Something shiny and plasticky. Anyway, they're waterproof. And burgandy. They feel warm, too. Did I mention burgandy? Back on the first foot, though, they weren't $39.99. They were $59.99. The ol' bait and switch. After trying them on (and after Mrs. Fiji left with her dissatisfaction, and her husband) I politely pointed out the price discrepancy to the salesman. "Those were the black ones," he said. "Oh," I said, making it clear that it wasn't clear. I briefly considered getting the black ones instead, and then stopped considering it. Burgandy, you know. "...but I'll give you a 10% discount for the misunderstanding," he added. I grinned. "That's not much of a difference," I said, stalling for time while I tried to remember whether it was 69.99 minus 7 or 59.99 minus 6. "It's six dollars," he said. Damn, I thought. Beat me to it. But "I appreciate the gesture," was all I said. "The good thing about those boots," he pressed, "is that you can wear them in wet OR dry weather." I resented the assumption that I cared so much about fashion, so I decided to be difficult: "So what kinds of boots *can't* you wear in dry weather?" But then he got all condescendy and explainy about how some boots look like they're made for rain, but these don't, which I probably deserved. I walked around some more, and looked at the boots, and myself, in the mirror. The plinyl looked painted on in parts, and some of the fabric didn't look fantastically sturdy. I'm pretty hard on shoes, and these had been a little bit of a struggle to zip (yay, dancer's calves) but once on, they were comfortable, and I liked how they looked. Smaller would have been nicer, but that's my feet, not his boots. :) I walked around the store some more and wondered if they'd fall apart soon. I tried to phrase my question carefully. "What would you say is the weakest point on the boot? What part will go first?" He couldn't answer that question, or chose not to, claiming he didn't know. Instead he talked about how the sole would certainly last (it's squishy, but thick, rubber) and how the shoes he's been wearing (unrelated to these boots) have lasted for years, and how the manufacturer of these boots (Andre Assous) has been in business for years--"longer than you've been alive!"
"That might be presumptuous," I tried to say archly. "How long have they been in business?"
"Oh, they've been around for a good 40 years," he tried to say believably. (Not more than twenty-five, from the websites I've seen.) "And you...you couldn't be...oh...more than...19 or 20." I know he was picking the age I look (25 or 26) and knocking off a few years, like any good salesman. Oh, well.
"I'll be 23 next week," I said, trying to look reprimandish, for the obvious bit of flattery, instead of pleased. Of course everyone wants to look 20. Wondering if I look old is my new insecurity. "And that was a very diplomatic response."
"So do we have a deal?" It was just after seven pm, and maybe he wanted to go home and stop being a salesman. I did like the way the shoes looked, and they were comfortable, although they didn't look very strong. I guessed I'd given him a hard enough time, so I acquiesced. "And I'll give you another ten percent off because it's your birthday." About $10 off before tax...not bad. As he was ringing me up he told the other salesman to wish me a happy birthday. "Not for another week," I reminded him. "I don't want you to think I got a discount under false pretences." He turned to his employee. "Do you know what pretences are?" He shook his head. "Neither do I," he said. "Yes, you do!" I shot back, forgetting that it isn't polite to let someone know you know they're lying. "Yes, I do," he agreed. What a salesman. As I gathered my things and prepared to leave he was talking on the phone in a mixture of English and Hebrew. Neat...I never hear that in San Francisco. I confess, I'd probably go back there, too...I was happy about the boots, even if the kowtowing made me a little uncomfortable.
Then I went to look for the two dance shoe stores I knew I'd seen at another time, and discovered them on second floors of office buildings (which was why I missed them the first time), two blocks apart from each other. It was 7:06,and both were dark. :( Next time, I told myself. Next time, Gadget.
After that I went into a hair accessory type store to look for those flat metal barrettes (not the kind with the spring-loaded action, but just the ones made from one long piece of metal, folded roughly in half so there's a "hinge" on the left side, and folded slightly over on the right so there's a little lip that you tuck the bottom half underneath so it stays in place. You know? And there's usually a horizontal slot removed from the center of the top half so you can see a strip of hair through it) for which I've been yearning for a while. Unfortunately, this hair accessory place turned out to be more Hot Topic than Claire's. Id est, they had more sassy little t-shirts and amusing socks and too-glitzy-to-be-edgy bumper stickers than they had barrettes, which was dumb, and a curtained-off 18-and-over-only room full of that sort of lingerie, etc., which was just disturbing, but then when I asked the store employee if his store carried this type of barrette, he kind of laughed at me and gave a cursory glance at the curling iron section before saying he didn't carry them. ?? I asked another employee who seemed to have a better grasp of hair accessories, or at least of English, and he said, "Oh, yeah, I know what you're talking about. Yeah, we're all out of them."
"The kind with the braids, right?"
"Yeah, with the hair attached?" Great, so now I look like I need extra hair, too.
"Nonono, there's no hair attached. It's just a barrette." I removed my hat to demonstrate. "See, you just slide it in and it holds the hair in place..."
"Yeah, and it falls down. In different colors. What are they called. Extensions. Yeah, we're all ou--"
"No, there's no fake hair! It's just a piece of metal. Nothing else." How could he not understand? I pulled out a piece of miniature notebook paper (Oh, yeah, Graham, I still have your little green notebook, except now it's a page thinner.) and demonstrated with the piece of paper how the barrette looked, and how it was narrow and folded over and had a little lip to tuck into itself, and could be slid open and closed by moving the bottom section to the right or left.
I guess I got a little intent about it, because soon the guy was looking at me like I'd bitten his head off or something. "Uh...yeah. We don't have those." I wanted to weep. What's so difficult about the idea of a barrette? Dude, you work at a hair accessories store!! You're supposed to be familiar with this stuff.
I wanted to leave the store without buying anything, but they had silly socks that I liked, so I bought a few pair. Then I walked out and wondered if there might be a Duane Reade nearby, because I was sure they'd have the barrettes. And...there was one across the street. Man, I love New York. They had the barrettes, too. I bought a card with six, and resisted buying more bobbypins, because although the ones I have are by now all tipless, I'm not doing so many ball-type things that I have to have them on hand for elaborate hair arrangement these days. :(
I toyed with the idea of returning to the store across the street and educating The Brothers Stultus, but it was already getting late and I don't think they'd have appreciated it.
Now I am listening to the Queen of the Night aria. I don't know who's singing, but her whistle tones are so pure, it gives me chills.
Time to write essays now.
Current Music: a mix of instrumental pieces, shuffled, courtesy of iTunes
~ prattled by Miriam at 9:45 a.m. [+]
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