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December 26, 2023


These are beautiful. Thanks for sharing them.

In your flickr stream, the photo of the Augusta riverside, with the brick building right by the river, made me sigh very wistfully.

And the one of the tree half-downed by a power line after a storm made me wince.

Thanks, CaseyL. In this last storm, 10 days ago or so, the river was almost up to the level of that bridge. I didn't get to Augusta to see it, but it was wild -- and of course costly and messy for the folks there.

As to the tree and the power line -- if it's the recent photo that was uploaded Dec. 5, that's a tree that was trimmed by the power company precisely to keep it from bringing down the power lines.

That picture was taken a day after an early season, heavy, wet snow -- my guys here were clearing snow for hours and hours, even with the help of a tractor/plow. I had to take my car to the shop for something that turned out to be fairly major, and since I'm still being strict about covid exposure, I walked around the neighborhood for a couple of hours taking pics instead of sitting in the stuffy shop with unmasked strangers coming and going, never mind the guys who work there.

I got to give the new boots I bought last winter a good workout, and they came through with flying colors!

I meant to wish everybody here all good things for Christmas and after, but got caught up in the preparations to leave and didn't do it. But I echo what Janie said, particularly the bit about 2024, and certainly for the people here a happy, healthy and prosperous year to come.

(And lovely pics, Janie, as always.)

THe boat pic is particularly luminous. It makes me want to grab my brushes and paints.

We still have our tree up and lit. Our tradition is to leave it up until it becomes a fire hazard.

I want to wish everyone a happy new year. I do wish that.

It seems...I don't know. Unlikely?

May your personal lives be joyful and safe regardless of what is happening around us.

Sometimes, even in dark and depressing days like these, an unexpected ray of light pierces the gloom:


Cats Filled the Prison. Then the Inmates Fell in Love. In Chile’s oldest and most overcrowded prison, the inmates have found solace in the hundreds of stray cats.

Dropping in the wish all y'all at ObWi a new year of peace, joy, love, and blessing. You never know, it could happen!

Here is a little light for your ears, my very favorite version of this old chestnut. Susan McKeown (voice) and Lindsey Horner (bass), and the words of Robert Burns.

Be well, be kind, take care of yourselves and those around you. Try not to let the crazy get inside your head.

Happy New Year, y'all.

So lovely, russell.

And oh so much the same to you, for you and all yours.

And to all of us.

I missed this post until today, which is fortunate because it is a lovely post for the new year. Hoping this next year treats all of you well.

Fireworks slowly dying down over here (it's 1:41 am).
The usual guys will restart it in an hour or two (with emphasis on loud bangers) to wake everyone up again.
It's so predictable. As is the new year concert with nearly 100% Viennese stuff.

Happy New Year to all, and to all a good - though hardly silent - night!

Thanks for the lovely photos an a happy new year!

A very Happy New Year to all! Let it end in peace and joy.

And here's hoping lj came thru the quakes OK.

Echoing wj and everyone else, wishing everyone all the best for 2024.

I love the story about the cats upthread. GftNC

It's the second anniversary of the Marshall fire that destroyed 1500 homes. We're almost as dry here this year as in 2021 (Denver has had several inches of snow we didn't get), but the idiots were out with their illegal fireworks last night anyway. At least we didn't have the 55+ mph wind gusts we had for Christmas.

Happy New Year, everyone.

I loved it too, wonkie. Animals are magic.

For those of us who can still tie our shoelaces.

Happy New Year!

Hi all, just a quick note, I live on the opposite side of the area affected, so no change for me. I'm sure that it is just apophenia, but it still seems pretty ominous to have an 7.5 earthquake on the first day of the year. Take care everyone.

lj: I recall, now close to two decades ago, driving along the coastal scenic highway on the Noto peninsula, just south of the epicenter.

There was a sign warning of tsunamis, with a picture based on the famous waves in 36 views of Mt. Fuji.

Hope the sign is still there. Much of that highway was just a meter above sea level.

Almost through the first day of the New Year. We be on a roll! It will always get better, even if it doesn't.

Happy New Year to the lot of you.

it still seems pretty ominous to have an 7.5 earthquake on the first day of the year.

Maybe it's just getting the bad stuff out of the way early in the year. So the rest of the year can be calm.

Thus sayeth the compulsive optimist.

Decorative shoelaces are nice but... I have always had ridiculously high arches and insteps to correspond. I have on occasion bruised the top of my foot when I didn't have the tension right and didn't fix it. I lace my shoes for comfort, not appearance, and adjust them regularly.

@Michael: until the weight gain of pregnancies, my arches were so high you could see under them.

No longer, and my shoe size went up by 3 or 4 notches as my arches flattened. Now I wear my shoes fairly loose, and I never untie them. (Winter boots excepted. Otherwise I never wear anything but sneakers. No dress-up occasions for years, and good riddance!)

I did enjoy the shoelace video, though -- my dad sailed on the Great Lakes as a young man (ore boats), as well as in the Navy in WWII. He liked to make fancy sailor's knots, and the shoelace patterns reminded me of that. He had a big book of knots, which I enjoyed looking at, but I was never good at the 3-dimensional aspect of making them. I just liked the geometry and patterning.

I have a Gumby cat in mind
Her name is Jenny Anydots
The curtain cord she likes to wind
And tie it into sailor knots

No longer, and my shoe size went up by 3 or 4 notches as my arches flattened. Now I wear my shoes fairly loose, and I never untie them.

That would explain why my shoe size went from an 8 in graduate school to a 10.5 now. My instep is still very high. I can slip my running shoes off (that's all I wear these days), but have to untie them and loosen the top few strands of the lace in order to get my instep in. Then tighten the laces enough to keep the shoes on.

On other Japan news, seeing reports that everyone evacuated and zero fatalities from the passenger plane that caught fire.

But they keep reporting it as a "Japan Airlines" flight, when the video clearly shows an ANA (All-Nippon-Airlines) logo.

Still good that people made it out okay, bad that 5 out of 6 Japan coast guard crew didn't...they were on duty to assist with earthquake relief.

It was a JAL flight, but a lot of the photos were taken with ANA planes in the foreground.

lj: thanks for the clarification!

I have similar arches plus RA. Always had to have loosely tied shoes I bought the Skechers slipons and they are the best shoes I ever had.

Marty - happy new year, and excellent to see you, and that you still check in!

On another subject, perfectly suited to the heading of light, I thought many here might be interested in this, in the Guardian today, on the Book of Kells. As well as the general visual splendour, for anybody not familiar with it and its marvels (I still hoard my postcards of the various illuminations from my visit to Dublin years ago), it also bears on our past discussions here about James Joyce, and whether (and how) his style of writing is so acclaimed:

The Book of Kells belongs in a library in the heart of Dublin for it is surely the foundation of Irish literature. James Joyce thought so anyway. “It is the most purely Irish thing we have,” he said, claiming that the huge illustrated letters helped inspire his own verbal effects in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. “Indeed, you can compare much of my work to the intricate illuminations.”

That’s because in The Book of Kells, as in Joyce’s writing, the logical meaning of words is replaced by something much harder to rationalise. Joyce’s fantastically complex language intentionally hinders meaning. Similarly, the three monks who created the Book of Kells lost themselves joyously in a work of art that defies function. For it completely fails in any practical purpose of “illustrating” a text. Its visual splendour overwhelms the words.


"why" not "whether"

Thanks for that article, GftNC.

Agree about the Book of Kells and its marvels -- it was on my short list of must-visit places the first time I went to Ireland in 1979, long before the girlfriend era. It's magnificent -- as is its setting at Trinity.

We can agree to disagree about Joyce. But on the Book of Kells we have complete agreement. "Stunning" and "awesome" barely begin to describe it.

The Book of Kells can be viewed online. It not as evocative as the real thing, but very good to have available.

The Book of Kells can be viewed online. It not as evocative as the real thing, but very good to have available.

wj, if you don't like the style associated with Joyce, I would recommend "Dubliners" which is a beautiful book and an easy read (though it can be read on different levels)

Pro Bono: thanks for that! It never occurred to me to look for such a thing, and of course the opportunity to see the whole thing is fantastic.

Janie: completely agree about the setting. That library is a kind of platonic ideal of a library for me. It was surprisingly difficult to get quite the view of it I wanted for anybody who doesn't know it, but the ones here give a good idea:


wj: I know we have been round this merry-go-round before, and I said exactly the same thing (which follows), but I can't remember if you answered in the affirmative or otherwise. His short story, The Dead, the last story in Dubliners, has often been called the finest short story in the English language, and I don't believe its style will appal you in the way that the novels do. Did you ever read it? If not, it will at least convince you that he wrote Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake the way he did despite being able to write, as it were, classically perfect prose (rather similar to the Picasso phenomenon - he could paint like an old master while still in his teens):


Wild speculation while babysitting.....

There's no doubt scholarship on this (and I never studied Joyce even when I was studying, so I know nothing about it), but I would assume that part of Joyce's "point" was to turn the relationship between clarity and words on its head. I.e., to show that however hard we strive for clarity, words are slippery, at least as slippery as the thought trains we try to encapsulate in them.

And contrary, or at least orthogonal, to the speculations of Jonathan Jones, the author of the Guardian article GftNC linked, I wouldn't put it past the monks who made the Book of Kells to have been after the same thing. Jones frames it as if they let their trippiness overwhelm the words, but they could, after all, have left the words out altogether; there's plenty of that kind of art that doesn't involve words.

So maybe they were making (what I see as) a Joycean sort of statement about meaning, the limits of words for conveying meaning, etc. Or rather, Joyce was making a monkish statement....

Presumably the monks making it on Iona were asked or commissioned to do it, and to what text. But as far as the trippiness is concerned, I always think that much religion is (when one excludes its plain narrative, let alone its prescriptive and proscriptive aspects) ineffable, and therefore in a way "faith" is susceptible of many strange or abstract manifestations. Clearly, I am not remotely like that myself, but I can still enjoy and admire many of its side products.

I guess I'm never going to read Ulysses or Finnegan's Wake.

James Joyce: Dublin's Word Weaver (Google Bard)

CharlesWT, making your AI toys jump up and do tricks may amuse you, but seriously, why in the world wouldn't you just sample a few paragraphs from the actual books to find out what the actual books are like?

Regardless of whether they're to your taste or not, Ulysses, at least, is one of the glories of literature in English. (Even I never tried to wade through Finnegan's Wake.) I wouldn't choose my reading material based on how some half-baked AI's pseudo-related gibberish struck me, but then, tastes differ, about literature as well as about the charms of AI.

Neither of those books is for the faint-hearted, in any case, and having skimmed around in Ulysses a few years ago after not looking at it for fifty years, I will admit that it isn't a work to be undertaken casually, especially if you aren't already fond of reading older fiction. To a contemporary ear it is ... difficult ... even for me, with my love of novels and my lifelong fascination with Ireland.

Having posted something depressing but important about Gaza on the Imagining thread, I feel the need to post something beautiful and inspirational here:


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