Thursday, May 25, 2006

conversation in a taxi

"People nowadays give ridiculous names to their children. Why can't they stick with nice, sensible, Old-Testament names?"
"Yeah--like Nebuchadnezzar."
"Or Cain."
"Or Habbakuk."
"Who on earth is Habbakuk?"
"I'm pretty sure he's, like, a prophet, or something."
"Wow, you're, like, a biblical scholar, or something."
"Come on, girls, be serious. What about Samuel?"
"That would be perfect if you had twins."
"Yeah. You could call them First Samuel and Second Samuel."
"You can't name your kids after books of the bible."
"Why not? You said you wanted Old Testament names. How much more Old Testament do you get than that?"
"Well, there's Genesis..."
"True. You could go in order. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua...actually Joshua's a nice name."
"Wait, you know the books of the bible in order?"
"I'm, like, a biblical scholar, or something, remember?"
"You girls aren't helping at all."
"Sorry, yes. Baby names. Biblical....Well, for girls there's always Jezebel."
"Or Delilah."
"Or, hey--Rachel!"
"Oh, now you're just being silly."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A memo to the gods of English weather

It is almost June. Do you think you could stop with the hail?

You'll notice that I don't ask for warm, pleasant weather. I wouldn't want anyone here to die of shock. But the hail thing--it's getting old. I suppose I should have been warned when, after a few days of pleasant weather a couple of weeks ago, people would say to me, "So, did you enjoy summer?" and I would laugh--and I would be the only one laughing.

I mean, honestly. It's nice to have a bit of foul weather, so that you have a ready-made topic of conversation and can bond with your fellow-sufferers...but enough is enough. So no more hail, okay? At least not until...July.

thanking you for your kind attention to this matter...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

He wants to pinch

[09:35] Corey: I want to pinch.
[09:35] Rachel: no, no pinching
[09:35] Corey: Maybe little pinch?
[09:35] Rachel: get away from me
[09:35] Corey: I pinch.
[09:36] Corey: *reaching for your ankle
[09:36] Rachel: I'm getting the tongs.
[09:36] Corey: !!!!!
[09:36] Corey: No pinch... no pinch...
[09:36] Rachel: you're just lucky I didn't have to tell your girlfriend
[09:36] Corey: What? That I pinch? She knows I pinch. She lets me pinch her.
[09:37] Rachel: that you pinch other people
[09:38] Corey: We have a very modern relationship. If I occasionally sink my sharp claws into someone else's ankle, she's mature enough to accept that.
[09:38] Corey: If I ever told her, that is.
[09:38] Rachel: I see.
[09:38] Corey: Don't tell her.
[09:38] Corey: Or I pinch you.
[09:38] Rachel: hey, I don't want to get pinched
[09:39] Corey: And yet I want to pinch.
[09:39] Corey: Such is life.
[09:39] Rachel: the perpetual problem:
[09:40] Rachel: how does any given pair of people (or indeed crabs) negotiate pinching frequency, given different levels of interest in pinching or being pinched?
[09:40] Corey: Basically, I don't tell you I intend to pinch. I just pinch.
[09:41] Rachel: ah. the stealth-pinch strategy
[09:41] Rachel: But then see I don't tell you I'm getting the hammer and tongs, and maybe a bit of dipping sauce.
[09:41] Corey: By that time I'm gone, pinching someone else.
[09:41] Rachel: typical.
[09:41] Corey: It's a perfect plan, really.
[09:42] Rachel: except for one thing:
[09:42] Rachel: my lightning-quick tempura skills.
[09:42] Corey: Uh oh.
[09:42] Corey: No pinch... no pinch...
[09:43] Rachel: --are you blogging this or shall I?

(watch this and then read this again. it'll make more sense.)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mondegreen Saturday

Kate Bush: I'll do it for you...I'll be Isildur or Marian for you...

She'll cut a Ring of Power off the hand of the Dark Lord for you? Aw. How romantic.

the politics of epidemiology

I'm rather anxious about my parents. See, I heard that Bush is planning to take action to prevent the spread of bird flu. Knowing him, though, that means he'll mount a preemptive strike against Turkey.

(some people say he'll hit the Canary Islands first, but this seems more plausible.)

things I never expected to hear from my boss, part N

Alison is my boss. Alison is a month older than me. Alison first met me when we were roommates at a conference, and a senior professor got us all drunk as skunks and I told her my entire life story. Alison has no illusions about me. Alison hired me anyway (go figure).

We were going to go out with another colleague yesterday evening, and since I still hadn't dried off after my wetting and I didn't have time to go all the way home to change, we stopped off at her place so she could lend me some dry clothes. We were walking down the street afterwards and she said, "You look better in my clothes than I do."

The list of things I never expected to hear from a boss just gets longer and longer.

voodoo umbrella

It's raining today and it's all my fault. See, I have this umbrella, and it's small enough that it's easy to carry around in my backpack, but also small enough that it isn't much use for actually, you know, keeping off the rain. It's more a symbolic umbrella--an umbrella security blanket, if you will: it gives me the feeling that I'm Doing Something about the rain, which is comforting even if the thing I'm doing isn't keeping me dry. Anyway, the weather this week has been stunning, so finally on Thursday night I took the umbrella out of my backpack, figuring I'd free up some space for essentials like Hob-Nobs.


What else did I expect, really? But it was truly amazing: on Friday the thunder-and-hail storm lasted only about half an hour, but it coincided exactly with the only half-hour of the day when I actually had to be outside. (It was kind of fun. I very quickly realized that there was no way to avoid getting drenched--no evasive ducking-under-awnings moves I could make, no speedy sprints that would save me a wetting--and so there was no point in resisting it. I ended up feeling like a kid splashing in mud puddles.) And then this morning it started chucking down again right when I started walking to the bus stop (again sans umbrella) .

I must e-mail my friend who wanted to have a barbecue this afternoon and give him my sincere apologies.

Monday, May 08, 2006


This might be the best bit of the cultural anthropology book I've been reading, Watching the English:

English protest march slogan:

What do we want? Incremental change!
When do we want it? In due course!