Entries from March 2004

Rantings of a Coffee Fanatic

(Editorial note: This is an incredibly long, meandering, and silly rant worthy of the "Rex Murphy" [the Andy Rooney of Canada, but with more pretentiousness] award for pointlessness. Ignore at will.)

coffeeCupAs some of you already know, I'm a bit of a coffee fanatic. I don't drink, I don't smoke anymore, and I don't do drugs anymore either (technically), so I hold on to the few vices I have left with both hands.

Coffee is, to me, the liquid of the gods. It shares a lot of the qualities that has attracted me to other vices: it helps wake me up when I'm tired, it mellows me out when I'm stressed, it can be done socially as well as in the privacy of my own home, it's reasonably accessible, and while it can be cheap, I can indulge in outrageously expensive pursuits if I so feel inclined. Oh, and it tastes good.

I'd like to think that even though I'm a coffee fanatic, I am most definitely not a coffee snob. That is, I'll drink any kind of coffee as long as it tastes good, and it isn't decaf. Decaf makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever, like being a gifted musician but only playing 80's hairband cover songs (The Darkness, I'm looking in your direction), or drinking Diet-anything when you're not on a diet. Why would you do that?

So, a realization: Tim Horton's coffee is utter crap. Yes: the self-manufactured hallmark of everything that is Canadian sucks pants.

» Rantings of a Coffee Fanatic continues...

Breast Warts

dictionariesI love languages. Spoken (and unspoken) languages, programming languages, secret underworld languages, creoles and pidgins—they're all cool. You could say that I'm a… fixalinguist? One of the polyglotsessed? A linguiphile? I don't know if there's a word for someone who's into languages, but whatever it is, that's me.

Luckily for me, my sweetie is a bird of the feather. Our apartment is filled to the rafters with language resources and tapes: The entire Just Listen and Learn language library (from Arabic to Spanish, with stops in between for most of Europe and Asia); Norwegian for Travellers, Essential Kanji, El Principito (The Little Prince, in Spanish); at least a couple dozen dictionaries for all manners of tongue… we got 'em all.

Notice, however, that I said I have a LOVE of languages—I didn't say I could SPEAK them. That's where Renée kicks my ass five ways to next Tuesday, as she speaks more languages than I even dream of. I'm still trying to learn my second (French), and some days I wonder if I have even the barest of facility with my mother tongue. I'm working on it.

Habits of the Language-Obsessed

One of the things I often do when I'm hanging out is to pull a random dictionary off of the bookshelf and start looking up words. This evening I was perusing a German-English dictionary (we have quite a few German books, because that's one of the languages Renée speaks). If I can ever get to a good level in French, German will possibly be the next language I want to learn. I don't know why—in many ways, learning Spanish or Chinese might be more immediately useful—but I think German is pretty neat.

Besides the fact that speaking it is just too much fun (I warned you I was a freak), one of the things I like about German is how logical it is. Just like English, many German words are just other German words smashed together. For example, one of my favourite German expressions is schadenfreude, which directly translates as schaden (damage) + freude (pleasure): the pleasure of seeing someone else suffer. Oh, those wacky Germans!

Word Arithmetic

Some of the other neat ones: onomatopoeia (words whose sounds imitate or evoke what they actually refer to, like boom, or squish) is lautmale'rei in German, which consists of laut (tone) + male'rei (painting), which is a beautiful way of describing what the word really means. Or, some grosser ones (because I'm totally infantile): bunion = entzündeter Fußballen which equals entzündeter (inflammation) + Fußballen (football); rectum, which is mastdarm, which turns out to be mast (fat) and darm (intestine). Hmm.

This is all well and good. Who was it, however, and what were they thinking when they coined the word for nipple? In German, nipple is brustwarze, which consists of brust ("breast"), and warze ("wart").

Breast wart.

Isn't language cool?

Stop the Clock, I want to get off

(Two posts in a single week! Man, I’m cooking with gas now.)

Tonight’s one of those nights when I’m toiling away, and looking up at the clock elicits a loud, “WHAT? It’s <insert time here> already? Arrg!” followed by ten to fifteen minutes of teeth gnashing, heart palpitations, and squirming of the buttocks in the chair.

We’re getting into the home stretch. Half of my 1st year group leaves next Monday for a week long design trip to Chicago (“that toddling town”), and with the Easter holiday just after that, it’s four weeks of classes left and then we’re done. Where did the year go?

Of course, and I keep posting about this but I find it somewhat interesting, but there’s no sign more telling that it’s almost the end of a semester than the sudden appearance of patchy facial hair around campus. Stress + lack of time + multiple, bone-crushing deadlines = ZZ Top, it seems, in both student and instructor.

Being someone who is completely incapable of growing more than a passing insult of facial hair, I find the state of chinny-chin-chin hairs to be pretty entertaining. I’ve always believed that Asians should avoid facial hair at all costs (David Suzuki, I’m looking in your direction), and my pitiful attempts at facial hair are telling.

So grow on, fellow students and instructors! I hear by proclaim that you are all my little chin hair proxies, and I will grow cheesy beards and goatees vicariously through all of you.

Okay, it’s time to stop avoiding the inevitable. Back to it.

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