Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 25th, 2011

Pen fun

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I’ve been going through the fountain pens, getting reacquainted and occasionally surprised by a pen I’d forgotten about (like the enormous Stipula retractable). I now recall this order: it was a lot of pens that I had finally decided to go for it—to get every one of them italic tipped, with inkflow adjusted as needed. It was a major project, and I don’t recall what took me away from pens just as the order came in—perhaps it was retirement.

At any rate, I’m just over the moon with them tonight—they write like magic, so smooth and even and … it’s hard to describe: tactile feedback and also the sensation that the line is growing out of the tip of the nib, and you’re just watching the letters form—kind of watching what you write as though it were a show.

And many old favorites were there: a couple Viscontis, including the big green one (the David? the Michelangelo?) ; the Montblanc Agatha Christie (silver and black with a snake clip and a snake’s head on nib); the big classic Montblanc—the 47?—writing italic with unbelievable smoothness. I can’t wait to use them all.

And The Eldest commented on how much smoother my writing is. When I first resumed letter writing, my hand was shaky indeed, but it was, as I suspected and in fact wrote, just a matter of being out of practice. It’s smooth now because, just as my piano teacher told me, spending an hour a day practicing dramatically improves one’s skill. I, unfortunately, never believed her, and—even more unfortunately—never tried to prove her wrong.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 June 2011 at 9:29 pm

Getting things done, slowly

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I have now uploaded the ¡Adelante! Dos Anki deck so anyone can use it, and I updated the ¡Adelante! Uno deck. Updates include corrections of typos and also usually a few additional cards (e.g., preterite forms). I’m hoping that the Monterey Peninsula College students who will take second-semester Spanish this fall (i.e., who will be using ¡Adelante! Dos as their text/workbook) will download the file this summer to get a leg up on the course. At least some might check since some seem to have used the Uno deck.

Boxes are stacked for the trip to the Logos secondhand-book store on July 5. (It’s the end of the school year rush still, so that’s the earliest appointment I could get.) Also, two boxes ready for library that I will take in on Monday. Lots of empty bookshelf space in the bedroom, so the stacked books from the living room are going in there, little by little.

I also finally found a big stash of fountain pens that I got back from Mottishaw at around the time I took a fountain-pen recess. Now that I’m back in the game, I can’t wait to get at them.

I got some coconut milk (i.e., substitute for cow milk, using coconut as the base—see also rice milk, almond milk, soy milk) and some coconut-based cream substitute. I’m going to try making yogurt with those sometime next week.

Things proceed apace.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 June 2011 at 7:17 pm

Posted in Daily life

An immigrant’s story

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Written by LeisureGuy

25 June 2011 at 3:38 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

Gorgeous photos of Mother Russia, ca. 1910

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Take a look. Astonishingly beautiful.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 June 2011 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Daily life

Good comment on New York’s passing gay marriage law

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From Glenn Greenwald’s column today. (Greenwald is himself gay, and lives now in Argentina.)

My reaction to last night’s enactment of same-sex marriage by the New York State legislature is more personal than political, so I’ll defer to Andrew Sullivan — one of the nation’s earliest advocates of gay marriage — to explain its significance.  But I can’t let this rare genuine political progress go unmentioned, so I will share one reaction:  in 1991, when I was a first-year law student at NYU, I regularly attended, for about a year, meetings and demonstrations of ACT-UP.  I was a passive observer, but very impressed and inspired by the unyielding refusal of gay men with AIDS in that era (in indispensable conjunction with lesbian activists) to passively accept their consigned fate and their status as marginalized, condemned outcasts: the expertise in politics and medicine they developed, the creative and brave civil disobedience they pioneered, and the force of collective will they mustered under the most trying of circumstances was nothing short of extraordinary.

The first meeting I ever went to was attended by Tom Duane, who spoke to the group.  At the time, Duane was seeking to become not only the first openly gay man elected to the New York City Council, but one of the first openly HIV-positive candidates to be elected to any political office.  Remarkably, Duane won, went on to be elected to the State Senate in 1998, and last night — 20 years older and now a veteran establishment Democratic lawmaker in Albany — he was at the emotional center of that vote.  It’s hard to describe how inconceivable such an event was back in 1991 — it was barely the end of the Reagan era, when “gay” and “AIDS” were still unmentionable in much decent company and much of gay activism was more about finding a way to survive (literally) than anything else — but the fact that this amazingly improbable event just happened should (like the events in the Middle East) serve as a potent antidote against defeatism.  Significant and seemingly impossible social and political change happens more often than we think, and it happens more rapidly than we realize.  Even the most momentous change is always possible if one finds the right way to make it happen.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 June 2011 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Saturday-night movie suggestion: the Carole Lombard/Jack Benny To Be or Not To Be

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A wonderful comedy, released in 1942 and very much a wartime movie. Some things I noticed as I rewatched it last night: very broad range of scene types and textures; the studio system allowed large numbers of extras: the crowd scenes really do have crowds; the intricacy of the comedy is wonderful. Great movie all round. The Anne Bancroft/Mel Brooks remake is not bad, but the original has steel.

This one is currently available on Netflix Watch Instantly.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 June 2011 at 11:27 am

Posted in Daily life, Movies & TV

From the mail folder

with 3 comments

I’ve already posted the very nice photo I got from a new wetshaver in the UK. Click it and click the result once more to scroll over it in all its full-size glory.

A separate email asked about a previous post on how to handle complaints within a relationship. I couldn’t recall the specific post, but I was able to offer a couple of thoughts prompted by the email:

One is the advice on mirroring from a very good book by Harville Hendrix. (Secondhand copies here.) The idea is to couch the complaint in the form of this template:

“When you do x, it makes me feel y, because as a child …”

Example: “When you leave your dirty dishes in the living room, it makes me feel taken for granted, because as a child my mother ignored my work and chores.”

That sort of thing. The connection is: what the partner does —> how that makes you feel —> tied to a childhood situation you experienced.

The idea is to select the childhood experience that produced the same emotion—it may not be about dishes and chores, but focus on the feeling: that’s the true guide.

The partner then demonstrates understanding by repeating the thing (not necessarily word or word, of course): “Okay. I understand—when I just leave the dirty dishes for you to take care of and say nothing about it, that makes you feel taken for granted, because when you were little your mother would ignore what you did.”

What this formulation does is drain away accusations and bad feeling: the partner is simply describing how they feel as a result of your behavior, and relating it to their early experience. Generally the response, once the message has been understood and repeated back, is quite positive: we want to understand our partner’s reactions, and in most occasions we have no problem dropping a behavior that produces a bad feeling because of its echo of some childhood difficulty.

Moreover, the template opens the door to a true discussion, helping one partner learn more about the other and the other’s background and feelings and thus provide a better understanding that will help future interactions. It seems likely that the person hearing what might otherwise be formulated as a complaint will, this formulation, be interested in hearing more and finding out more about those childhood years and experiences. That kind of stuff is almost always interesting when it’s about someone to whom we’re close.

And, of course, it helps the person initiating the discussion understand that the feelings they’re having might not be from their current situation, but the residual feelings from the earlier experience or situation that have been awakened by what happened now. In this context, I highly recommend Joanna Field’s fascinating memoir A Life of One’s Own, in which she provides quite a few insights from her investigations of her own feelings.

The Hendrix book is quite good and has many techniques to improve communication and understanding. He also has a very interesting idea of why we find certain potential partners attractive.

Another possibility is in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, when he writes about habit 5: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” (Habits 1-3 are designed to enable one to be independent and, once that is accomplished, habits 4-6 help him/her ascend to interdependence—the ability to interact productively with others. Habit 7 is the on-going habit of renewal and growth.)

In that section of the book, he talks about how to listen to someone’s account of a difficulty or problem they face and how NOT to respond out of one’s own autobiography (in which one ends up talking about oneself and trying the get the other to join in once the other understands how fascinating one is, etc.  🙂  ). Covey’s writing style I found to be labored and obscure, but a rough outline of some of the ideas in the book helps one understand the tougher passages. However, that outline is quite incomplete, so also read the book to get the full story.

A query from Eddie of Oz for a good shave stick with a fresh-lemon fragrance. The best I know—and the only one I know, but it really is quite good—is the one from Honeybee this one.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 June 2011 at 11:08 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

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