Uriouser and Uriouser

They rhyme, but they have opposite meanings.
It’s very difficult to feel both emotions at the same time,
and one is far more productive than the other.
Seth’s Blog

What is Seth on about here? Furious and curious.

I’m not sure I buy the “opposite meanings” claim but he makes a good point: Curiosity drives out furiosity, and vice versa. It’s tough to hold onto puzzled and peeved at the same time. And if I’m interested in fixing something, it’s better to enquire into it than to rant about it.

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Shovelling Water

Having finished my last, last-ever project, I turn my attention to the embarrassingly overgrown strips of garden flanking our community mailboxes. City property, for sure; just as surely, property on which no City employee has set foot in the last 13 years. Without *some* feet on the ground it would be a completely overgrown tangle of (ob)noxious weeds, the highly successful burdock among them.

Burdock is used for skin problems, stomach problems,
joint swelling, and other conditions,
but there is no good evidence
to support its use for any condition.

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Worth Doing

Anything worth doing well is worth overdoing.
– Anders Sandberg

I cite this quote exactly as I actually saw it online in a record of a Slate interview.  I also document the quote, below, although I acknowledge that it’s not exactly proof. Still, check out the last line in this “snip” (snipping being something I’m now overdoing with the new-to-me tool for capturing partial screenshots simply and elegantly).

I was tickled, because it gave me an idea for a post on the “Anything worth doing . . .” theme, comparing and contrasting different sayings. After all, isn’t G.K. Chesterton famous for this quote?

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

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One Planet, One People

Yeah, yeah. Set aside the world wars, where we showed unequivocally that we are not “one people.” From civil wars (hot and cold) to Christian denominations, humans have what seems like an endless capacity for splintering into smaller and smaller groups.

One planet, one people? Hah.

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Awatto and Environs

With my project almost done and some family in town, we took two days and did the standard tour of the city and its environs:

  • Places showcasing the abrupt transition from agricultural land in the broad river valley to Canadian Shield
  • Pakenham, for its arched stone bridge (one of the Seven Wonders of Lanark County) across the (other) Mississippi River and for its ice-cream kiosk (against all reasonable expectation, not a Wonder, but still worth a stop)

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Teak. Sleek. Minimalist. Monochromatic. What aesthetic comes to mind? (Need a hint? Think meatballs.)

Yes! You got it in one. Scandinavian.

Collage of Scandinavian art

Is it something to do with their uncluttered natural landscapes, all rocky fjords, sea/sky interfaces, mountains, and ice?

Collage of Icelandic landscapes


Now consider the decor on offer elsewhere. Intricate. Detailed. Ornate. Colourful. Delicate.

Collage of Thai art

Is the aesthetic of the art found in a small Thai restaurant in an unremarkable Ottawa strip mall linked to the riotous plant growth, the insanely beautiful and varied birds of the jungles of Thailand?


Do these two decors — Scandinavian and Thai — hold down opposite ends of the spectrum? Probably not — there are likely more severe and more ornate aesthetics in the human range — but at least they illustrate the point. As humans, we seem to agree on the value of embellishing our surroundings, but dramatically fail to agree on what that means.

That’s OK. It turns out there are many ways to be humanely human, but all of them come back to this:

Find beauty in the world,
and add beauty to it.


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The Turnip Tenet

If your turnip sprouts,
you’re too busy.

Sprouted rutabaga

I saw the tiny sprouts when they first appeared, and I ignored them.

Surely I’ll get around to it.

But no round tuit was forthcoming, and no one named Shirley knocked at the door, either. So, like Topsy, this turnip just grew after a few weeks of sitting on my kitchen counter, waiting in vain for me to turn it into mashed turnips.

It’s a first for me, and I hope not the first of many. As the Big Guy reminds me, with more emphasis than is entirely polite, I’m now in my 70th year and it’s time to Stop Working.

I guess that’s right. I guess, too, that it’s time to pass Topsy Turnip along to the municipal composters. Or maybe I’ll get around to planting it . . .

What do you think?


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The Hinterland Just Down the Road

I don’t remember when I first heard a common loon in person. I didn’t spend much time on Canadian lakes until I was in my fifties. Of course, I’m sure I heard it in one of those wildlife moments that used to be on TV.

Their call is both extraordinary and, once heard, unmistakeable.

Black, white, black on white.
A mournful wail fills the dusk;
Day softens to night.

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I Happen to Know

Unlike Peggy Sue, I can’t say that in the future I happen to know that I won’t have much use for algebra. After all, I’ve used a fair bit of it already.

Not anything complex, you understand, but basic ratios are useful in many applications, from scaling recipes up or down, to adjusting knitting patterns to allow for a different gauge.

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