Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The native connection

The book referenced in this link is about Delaware but the concept applies to anywhere.

Do you want native birds,butterflies and other wildlife to visit your yard?

Plant natives, not exotics.

A sad day

Three children died in a house fire today in the city where I work.

It has been a very sad day.

Please be careful as the cold days and the holidays begin, my friends, with your heaters, candles and electric cords.

Monday, November 26, 2007

And we point fingers at the Brazilians?

How is it that if I gather garbage in my yard, I cannot burn it but rather must pay to haul it away somewhere, but some money-grubbing land developer can set ten acres of forest on fire within city limits and force his neighbors to breathe the pollution for a week or more until his apocalyptic hell-hole has finished smouldering?

I hate land developers. I really hate them.

Someone wrote recently that only a fool hopes for zero growth or stagnation.

I wonder how it is that we became locked into the ever-escalating cycle of consumption and destruction as a good thing, how we have given up on the possibility of anything better.

Said the yeast in the beer barrel to his fellow concerned yeast globule: Of course we must convert this sugar into alcohol. It's called progress. It's the only way to live. You need not concern yourself, young do-gooder, with what will happen when all the sugar is gone and only alcohol remains. This barrel is big enough to last forever.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Six legs to heaven

I have learned today that the ancient Eygptians believed that the souls of the deceased could take the form of a grasshopper, and hence such insects have been found -- long dried-up, of course -- in their tombs.

It was because no other animal, not even a bird, seemed to possess such an amazing ability to transcend space, to go in an instant from crouching upon the earth to riding the sky. Grasshoppers also have a relationship to dawn and dusk, the only time when their eggs will hatch, and can still produce their song even when their sound organs have been destroyed, according to the author who enlightened me on this subject.

Perhaps in that mysterious connection of mythology, the same concept was known in ancient Greece, and lies behind the myth of Tethonis, a mortal granted immortality but not youthfulness, who ultimately vanished except for his voice.

On this cold November night, I am thinking back to a summer morning when I chased a grasshopper through a tall meadow in the middle of the woods, trying to take its picture. It vaulted a thousand times its height to the safety of some pine boughs, then into the air again just as I got the camera close.

Perhaps it was the soul of a celebrity and saw me as the paparazzi that had hounded it in its human phase.

I make no sense to me

I found a tamarind seed in the block of supposedly seedless tamarind pulp that I bought a few weeks ago from the Asian grocery store.

I tucked it into a soft little bed of soil in a little round pot. And now it has sprouted.

I do not live in southern Florida, the only region of the continental US where this tree is successfully grown outdoors. This little sproutlet will have to live in my house and will probably never produce tamarind fruit.

But I simply could not cast out the seed to die.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pixie Dust muses on herbs

I haven't visited Pixie Dust in a while, so it was a true pleasure to wander over to Her blog tonight and discover that She is blogging about that tiny but succulent herb, thyme, that no garden or kitchen should be without.


“Undulating relentlessly from one side to the other of the [microscope slide].”

That is how Deborah Hayden, author of “Pox,” describes the actions of the tiny, snake-shaped bacterium that causes the terrible disease syphilis.

It is a book at once horrifying and amazing, about a creature that is also both. Her words aptly conjure up the notion of a determined and ruthless predator – a Great White shark churning in a petri dish.

Most diseases cause a few specific symptoms. Few if any produce the huge and devastating range of ailments as this one: from sores and a rash to terrible aches, heart damage, paralysis, birth defects and even insanity.

I am caught up in the spell of this book, describing a deadly beast that has stalked and captured some of the best and brightest or notorious of mankind – from Nietsche to Beethoven, Columbus to Al Capone.

And indeed, only mankind does it plague – riding the waves of our carnal desires.

I don’t know much more about this subject, syphilis. I do know that most bacteria or other parasites debilitate or kill in four ways: by secreting toxins, consuming tissue, consuming the host’s food supply or by blocking lymph nodes or blood vessels.

I’m not sure at this point how syphilis does its gruesome damage – maybe Hayden’s book will explain it for me.

Penicillin, for now, controls it in modern society.

Having not exactly lived the wild life in my youth and having as my life partner a Woman of similar background, I have been spared this terrifying experience.

Ms. Hayden

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Linus Van Pelt: "I thought little girls were innocent and trusting."
Sally Brown: "Welcome to the Twentieth Century."

-- From "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."

I am feeling better about the options available for the little fellow that I mentor. He has a resource period that I will start attending every week.

In discussion with a school counselor, he has confirmed what I have seen a time or two: a couple of girls in his class pick on him. I don't know how badly or how often, or how much this is affecting his behavior this year. I don't know how much he may have brought upon himself. But I do know, in spite of my strong faith in the glory, beauty and divinity of Woman, that She can be capable of cruelty; and so, too, can the little flower that grows up to be a Woman. This is the hardest, most awful fact that I think I have ever had to face and I would give anything to make it untrue.

The cruelest words that ever stung my childhood pysche came from the lips not of some hideous boy but from a girl -- though I learned to fight with boys and defend myself, I had no defense against the verbal sucker-punch of a beautiful but thoughtless young lady. I never did understand why: we were total strangers. She could have asked me to carry all her books all the way home for the rest of the year and I surely and gladly would have. Why be so senseless, so mean?

And I remember a few years before that, being amazed when a school chum of mine, a guy whom I thought of as tough and cool, began to blubber and cry when a couple of girls from our school stole his hat and called him names.

Thought for the day

If you are currently breathing, thank a plant.

If your lunch today consists of anything other than gravel or ice cubes, thank a plant.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Legless Larry and the Lipstick Lady

A very intriguing, unusual youtube video, which, tragically, the owner has declined to allow to be embedded.

Check it out by cut and paste, and tell me what you think:

Darlene, Part IV

Somewhere in the world, an absolute angel named Darlene Tsue lives and breathes.

I just got an email from indicating that She has joined my high school class list posted there.

Can You say electrified?

I hope that Her life has been sheer bliss and that in these 20 years since last my eyes beheld Her, She has attained Her every dream.

Thinking out loud ...

I've talked before about the little fellow that I eat lunch with once a week.

We are very different. I am Caucasian and he is African-American. He is from a single parent home while I was blessed enough to have a father in my life. He lives in dire economic circumstances. I'm hardly wealthy but I get by. Today he told me that his family's hot water has been off for months.

In regards to that last statement, I am troubled. His teacher and others have informed me that he lies. And I get the feeling that he tells me what he thinks I want to hear. So did he make that up, too?

I don't know what to do. He gets in trouble at school, sporadically -- but how long until little boy outbursts become teenage rages, how long until the trouble becomes serious?

I've never been a father, although I would have liked to have been. All that I know about kids I've had to learn from watching others interact with children. That's like trying to be a good driver just from being a passenger.

It's clear to me that just seeing this child once a week at lunch is not helping him very much.

But he lives in the city where I work; and I live far away in the county. I can't just casually drop by his house and say, "Hey, 'Timmy,' wanna shoot some hoops?" Or can I?

Perhaps I need to do more to befriend his mother. But how to go about that?

His teacher suggested today that he needs a mentor. I thought I was being a mentor. There's a group in the city, "Concerned Black Men of [my city]," she said, who could help him. So should I turn him over to them and admit defeat? Can they relate better to him than I have been able to do? Doesn't it smack of racism to suggest that people always do better with their "own kind?"

The only thing that I know for sure is that I do not want to see him make choices to ruin his life like the last child I tried to help, years ago.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Plutarch, On Listening to Lectures

Now if that doesn't sound like the title of a dull and dreary discourse!

But truth is, whether we are a student in school, an invitee to a party, a watcher of a political debate, or even out on a date, we will be hearing speech and we ought to know the virtue of being a good listener.

Plutarch wrote nearly 2,000 years ago but his words are still gold today. He warns against one who waits impatiently to jump into the conversation or interrupts incessantly; and against believing that a young person is better off hearing no speech rather than being taught to distinguish for themselves what is bad speech and what is good (the endless attempt to ban books from libraries and schools springs to my mind).

Admire but do not envy a good speaker. Learn from his flaws how you may improve your own speaking skills. It is easy to criticize, harder to excel. Beware the empty pleasure of a flowery speech that does nothing to improve one's mind.

Do not lead the speaker to digress. Pretentious contempt should not be mistaken for dignity. Discourse demands graciousness.

Every lecture has something in it of merit. And every listener has a certain role in the speech, a part to play as the audience.

Inflation of adjectives, abuse of superlatives, seems to have been a problem then as it is now.

Don't pretend to understand, nodding assent to avoid the shame of your ignorance. Don't be as a fledging bird, expecting the speaker to regurgitate knowledge while you put forth no effort of your own to learn and study.

And finally:

"The mind does not require filling like a bottle, but rather, like wood, it only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and an ardent desire for the truth."

Save a Bird

Since the talk on Isis today is about birds, I thought I would recommend this site I found, which features a highly successful way to prevent one of the top causes of bird deaths: flying into windows.

I'll add more to this post later.

Thanks, Lone Grey

Lone Grey Squirrel has tagged me with the Wise Bird Award.

I am flattered. But as I told him, I am not wise. I am just curious. And I take as my hero – though his end was unfortunate – Jude of Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure.” He was an ordinary guy who refused to believe that the classics of the ages, the knowledge, the great languages, belonged only to stuffy, high-born intellectuals. It annoys me when people whom I know are smart, just let their brains gather dust once they have earned their high school diploma. Why the hell shouldn’t a plumber be able to recite Shakespeare, or a custodian be conversant with Plato? Why shouldn’t ordinary folk gathered around an office water cooler be able to have a conversation about St. Augustine or Sappho?

So I read big books, even though I have to go through them rather slowly and sometimes repeat a paragraph or two. I am a human being and therefore I have the right – even the obligation – to commune with great human minds past and present.

I'll pass this award along later today.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Where bad folk go when they die -- the developer's hell

If I were Dante, author of the famous "Inferno," I would add a chapter on the fate of the loathsome wretches who will someday have to stand before whatever Being created this planet and explain why they spent their lives trying to destroy it.

That would include terrorists, dictators and land developers.

The latter is my subject this morning.

Hell for such loathsome souls will not be a realm of flames guarded by shrieking demons. Flames and noise accompanied their work on earth and would simply bring them undeserved joy.

No, instead they will wander eternally through verdant valleys and lush forests -- without the power to destroy them. They will have to listen to the songs of birds and watch deer nibbling the grass, frogs and turtles luxuriating in wetlands and there won't be a damn thing they can do to them anymore.

Imagine their misery: all that prime, wooded acreage, all that luscious waterfront land, just crying out to be cleared and graded and sold -- but nobody's posting "For Sale signs, nobody's holding rezoning hearings, no farcical county governments are pretending to listen to the concerns of citizenry while secretly salivating over the bribes the developer's lawyers have ready for them in the back room -- and nobody has the key to the bulldozers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

First steps

There are so many things to consider when planning a business, even one on such a small scale as I am.

What permits will I have to get? How much will they cost? How many herbs do I need to plant in order to be able to sell enough to make it worth the trouble and to keep enough on hand through the entire growing season? How often can each herb be trimmed without asking too much of it?

How will I keep up with the extra demands on the soil without resorting to chemical fertilizers? I use cow manure in my home garden, but would that create an e coli liability risk for the public -- we've all heard the horror stories.

Should I first try to create a partnership with a farmer's market regular and then approach restaurants after I've gotten more established? I don't want people coming to my home, especially during the day when I am not there.

I think I will begin with chives. I have a clump already that is about the most undemanding plant I have ever seen.

I will put together some attractive cards to go with them that talk about the history and uses of chives, as well as other facts, such as that they are the only member of the onion family that is native to the Old World and the New.

Monday, November 12, 2007

November daydreams

I have a crappy old deck by my house that needs to go away. I have never been a sit-on-the-deck sort of person so I haven't given it the loving care that it needs.

I think I want to replace it with a little greenhouse, one that I could build myself. That in turn would be perfect for getting an early start on another daydream I had today: clearing out another big square of boring lawn grass and planting rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, sage, etc -- enough to start a small herb business.

What would I need? Some lumber, sand, glass panes, an electric heater (greenhouses don't stay magically warm at night -- they need help with that).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Burying Bulbs

"Crimson and clover," sings the radio overhead as I wait in the Walgreen's line, which is moving very slowly for 10:30 at night.

An incredibly voluptuous Girl flows by, sashaying down Aisle Such and Such. Look but don't touch is the rule of the married man, I remind myself. Well,it's my Sweetie's fault that I am in here tonight, buying Her a certain something that She needs.

I switch my mind to other things. To bulbs. Today was a day to plant bulbs. Today I dug my fingers into the cool soil and buried crocusses, tulips, daffodils and allium.

It is a curious tribe or two of the flowering family that make bulbs. While more timid bloomers are still safely snuggled in seeds below the cold sod, waiting on serious sunshine, plants that grow from bulbs are already stretching forth their leaves, soaking up the stingy light of late winter.

Daffodil bulbs are big and rough, with a sort of spouty looking thing at the top, like a badly made Greek amphora. Allium are tiny and smooth, like pale acorns without their caps. In between in size are tulips, beloved sign of spring when they raise their proud heads.

As I turned the soil, I disturbed a few lethargic earthworms, which I reburied; and a few white grubs, bad for roots, which failed to win mercy at my hands.

Pondering Peru

There are two ways to learn: like a carnivore, tearing off great chunks of knowledge and gulping them down; or like an herbivore, chewing slowly and deliberately and ruminating at great length.

Lately I favor the latter. I like to take one concept, even a sentence or a word, and mull over it all day, while I am driving or waiting somewhere, not forced to use my brain for something else.

Today it was this:

Callejon de Huaylas.

To any knowledgeable Peruvian, it is probably quite familiar. To me, it was unknown until Marie Arana wrote of this place in the October National Geographic, as part of Her lucid and beautiful essay on the great South American continent.

Callejon de Huaylas, She writes, is a verdant canyon that cuts through two mountain ridges ... and is the cradle of one of the earliest known civilizations of Peru, the Chavin.

If I had a magic lamp, I might be a nice guy and wish for world peace but I would also wish for a thousand years of life and a wallet that never emptied, so that I could travel to every country in the world, from the tundra to the burning desert and see every city, every forest, every beach, every mountain and every canyon.

I would walk through Callejon de Huaylas, too, and meditate on the Chavin, and enjoy the South American sunshine on my face.

Above is that beautiful place, from

Friday, November 9, 2007

Rebecca is back!

To anyone else here who is a fan of this wonderful Lady, She's back posting again.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What man hath built

Blogger Kat has gotten me thinking again about architecture, the science and art of building.

I love the natural world and I hate so much of what man has done to it -- yet I am not so narrow minded as to loathe everything about my own species and to despise everything that he has created, some of which is breathtaking in its beauty.

We are fortunate that despite thousands of years of war and nature's own destructive hand, many of the great buildings of history still stand -- the Pyramids, the Parthenon (though we almost lost that one), a myriad of medieval cathedrals, Taj Mahal, Angor Wat, etc.

I returned tonight to my reading of James Carroll's "Constantine's Sword," which examines the historical relationship and antagonism between Christians and Jews. Tonight's chapter discussed the Jewish temple, destroyed almost 2000 years ago by vengeful Romans.

What a building that must have been! Carroll alludes to Josephus (Ant. Book XV, Chapt. 11, verse 5):

"For while [the adjacent] valley was very deep and its bottom could not be seen, if you looked from above into the depth, this further vastly high elevation of the cloister stood upon that height, insomuch that if anyone looked down from the top of the battlements ... he would be giddy ..."

When I read Josephus a few years ago, I read that passage but failed to appreciate what it was trying to tell me.

This blog is certainly not the place to go into any great detail about the Jewish temple, its significance, its history. But consider that there is evidence that the spot has been considered sacred since the Stone Age; consider that a shovel cannot be thrust into the ground there nor a ramp repaired today without inciting a riot.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

CMA thumbs down

I watched the Country Music Awards with my Sweetie tonight. A complete waste of time. A bunch of lame, tuneless performances, except for Reba McIntyre and Alison Krauss. The man who should have won, Tim McGraw, was barely there.

I cannot listen to his latest song, If You're Reading This, without getting chills.

So I have embedded it here. Please excuse the incorrect "your" -- I'm not sure it will upload properly if I change the youtube contributor's title.

34 links and they're gathering dust

Having completed a huge work project today, I now have time to breathe again, to be me. And, I hope (but don't dare promise) to blow the dust off some of my blog links. Pixie Dust, Lone Grey Squirrel, Carmen, Leslie and Nadiyya, especially.

I value all of you, I really do. I wouldn't have linked you if I didn't. Thanks for your patience.

To know a soul

Several years ago, I watched a movie – I think it was Mel Gibson’s “Man Without a Face.”

The protagonist, at first with great reluctance, was mentoring a young boy. Then word of this fact broke in the community and it turns out that the man had been involved in a car wreck years before in which another young boy had been killed. The community suspected that the man had been molesting the boy before the accident.

This poignant line I remember: the young boy, upon hearing the gossip about the tragedy, asks the man: Did you do it (molest the boy)?

The man looks at him very hard and says something to the effect of, “You’ve known me for a while now. Decide for yourself.”

In other words, the young man is denied the easy satisfaction of a yes or no answer and is forced to make his evaluation of the protagonist solely on the basis of how well he knows the man’s soul.

That is not so easy to do. That is what makes that movie remarkable, to me. The boy must decide for himself, based on his gut and his experiences with his friend, and nothing more.

Today I was asked about a friend of mine – whether it was possible that they might have written some rude and thoughtless statements on a certain blog. Now, tis true that all of us can be rude and thoughtless at times. But I know the soul of this my friend and I told the inquirer that I was confident that my friend was not to blame.

Later, I received the equivalent of the “yes or no” answer as craved by the boy in the above movie. But what if my friend had said, “ECD, you know me. And that is the only answer that you are going to get.”

Burning brownies

They say that a person has to perform a certain amount of exercise (ten laps, for example) to burn off the calories from a certain portion of food, say, a brownie.

I wonder if any studies have been done to compare the efficiency of the human engine to an automobile engine in this regard. How many calories does it take for a human to travel one mile, compared to the "calories" of gas burned to propel a vehicle one mile?

I'm just curious.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sunday, November 4, 2007



That's the transliteration of the Hebrew word most often rendered as "heaven."

Berosheth bara Elohim shamayim ... When God began to create the heavens ...

When the Russians first entered space, so I am told, they looked around and said they did not see God up there, in the shamayim above our blue planet. But it had been many centuries since the heirs of monotheism pictured God floating in the vaccuum where satellites and lost space suit gloves now hover. God, the modern theist says, is transcendent. His personal shamayim is somewhere beyond mortal comprehension.

The third book on my shelf is a collection of ancient Mesopotamian poetry, from the people who gave us beer, bread, the wheel and probably the first alphabet.

The most famous of them is the Enuma Elish, the creation hymn.

Before the gods were the elements: Apsu and Tiamat, the two primordial seas, and Mummu, counselor to Apsu. (There may be some etymological kinship between this Tiamat and the tehowm, the "deep" mentioned in the Hebrew creation hymn of Genesis.)

There was no land to block their mingling. Within their depths were created the silts, Lahmu and Lahamu, then Anshar and Kishar, the horizons.

To Anshar was born Anu, the sky; Anu begat Ea, the Earth. The noise of these gods tormented the ancient elements. They counseled together and proposed to destroy them. The gods battle against the elements.

In the depths of the sea, Marduk, son of the god Ea, is born. He is appointed king. He attacks Tiamat and defeats her. From her body is made the sky, the stars, moon, sun and the earth. Then man is created, to serve the gods.

This bloody beginning is similar to the earliest Greek mythology, as described by Hesiod in his Theogony. But I'll get to that later.

Shamayim. Not cold space but a blissful paradise do we long for. Mythology, apocrypha and scripture, is full of tales of men who were caught up to it, or tried to build towers to reach it. The passport is immortality and that is the subject of the other famous Mesopotamian book on my shelf, the Epic of Gilgamesh, which I will discuss later.

Visit LayDdee -- that's an order!!!

LayDdee has posted a very moving video on Her blog this weekend, about the effort to save dolphins from fools who kill them deliberately as competitors in fishing.

Her awesome blog is always, always, always worth a visit, especially today.

People have millions of fishing boats dredging up every possibly edible creature in the ocean by the billions of tons -- and a few beleagured pods of dolphins are the problem?

Makes me glad I can't afford seafood.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The passing of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger

I saved a clip from August on the passing of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger.

I have always found the phenomenon of religious conversion to be fascinating. It is almost always an act of great courage, for the repercussions are often severe.

Christians become Jews, Jews become Christians, Christians switch back and forth among their myriad denominations. Atheists, like the son of the late famous secularist Madeleine O'Hare, become Christians, Christians become atheists, etc., etc.

The late Lustiger presents a very interesting case. He was born Jewish, of a mother who died in Auschwitz. After his conversion -- and what wrestlings of soul he must have had! -- he "rose to become one of the most influential Roman Catholic figures in France." According to the article I read about him, "he appears to have perfectly synthesized his Jewish heritage with his chosen faith, [saying] 'Christianity is the fruit of Judaism.'"

I wonder what he would have thought about a book that I am reading, "Constantine's Sword," which contemplates the long and painful struggle between Christianity and Judaism, particularly the painful Christian insistence on their faith being the supercession of Judaism.

Friday, November 2, 2007

While bombs exploded ...

I saved this fascinating clip from September and I finally have the time tonight to share it with you.

It's about a luthier -- a violin maker, in a most unusual place.

I've tried to embed the link but I'm not doing something right so I'll just have to ask you to paste it into your browsers:

Interesting Site of The Day

An excerpt from, relating to etiquette when one's Lady smokes (mine doesn't by the way, in case you wondered):

1.0 Summary
The Urban Gentleman must make a fundamental decision with respect to his attitude towards the lady's tendency to smoke. Should he decide that the behavior is offensive and/or intolerable, he will enjoy the smoking lady's presence from a physical and emotional distance. Should he, on the other hand, see the practice as little more than an element of the lady's consummate radiance, he will embrace the smoke as a well choreographed and precisely orchestrated activity, and will be the lady's accomplice in all of her smoking efforts. If the gentleman is among a group of smokers, although generally he will be generous with flame and product, the gentleman will tend to his lady's needs primarily and with greater care than will he tend to the rest of the group.

2.0 Logistics
The gentleman will first and without fail ignite the lady's cigarette, for he knows that the lady's pleasure does not derive from her opportunity to light her own. The gentleman will anticipate the lady's need for a flame and time his movement to her cigarette such that his lighter reaches her before the Light has sat unlit betwixt her lips for so much as 3/4 of a second. Further, the gentleman will acquire and maintain a lighter that is fit for his lady. It will be of a finer metal and will have presence. It will be a highly calibrated instrument such that with proper maintenance it does not fail to work. (The gentleman may head swiftly to Cartier following his read of this material to purchase this said lighter, discarding his Zippo along the way.) The gentleman will opt for matches only when his lighter is inexcusably unavailable, first making use of wood matches, then cardboard.

2.1 The Gentleman Maintains An Inventory
The gentleman will keep a supply of the lady's cigarette with him at all times. He will draw from this supply when the lady gives him an indication that she is ready for him to do so. In short time, in fact, the gentleman will be expected to anticipate the lady's urges so that the lady and the gentleman will no longer have to count smoking among topics they discuss.

2.2 Ashtrays
If he is in such a place where the lady is expected to make use of an ashtray, then the gentleman will ensure that the lady is provided with one and that it is a clean ashtray.

2.3 Smoking Bans
The Urban Gentleman has of late been forced to come face to face with laws commonly known as “smoking bans.” Like laws that prevent him from entering taxis in traffic, the gentleman knows that smoking bans are a mixed bag. If the lady does not smoke, then the ban is an asset; if she does smoke, then they are a challenge to the Urban Gentleman. If the lady smokes, the gentleman will have in his arsenal of venues that throw caution and fines to the wind and continue to allow smoking. He will make it his business to show the lady these venues. In situations where the lady has no choice but to leave the venue for a cigarette, the gentleman will ensure that the lady smokes accompanied – either by himself or, if in a group, by one of the lady’s friends.

3.0 The Gentleman Smoker
Just as the gentleman enjoys watching the lady as she dances with her cigarette, the lady enjoys seeing the gentleman’s performance. The gentleman, therefore, will handle his own smoking habit with grace and a touch of panache. He will not fail to light his cigarette on the first attempt; he will not fumble for his smokes, nor for his lighter; he will make use of a silver cigarette case that is not short on patina; he will take the red to and from his lips with character, but not flamboyance; he will exhale knowing that the process of exhaling should not be conveyed as a process in and of itself; he will not smoke a cigarette that is better suited for a lady, nor will he smoke a Newport.

Should the gentleman smoke and the lady abstain, the gentleman will service his habit only to an extent with which the lady is comfortable.

4.0.Advanced Smoking Etiquette And Flirtation
Especially if the gentleman himself smokes, he will light the lady's cigarette first between his own lips and then delicately place it between hers. The gentleman will use these opportunities to show the lady that he thoroughly enjoys servicing her. He will make use of devices such as eye contact and a gentle touch of her cheek to convey his pleasure. If it is the case that the gentleman is able to form rings as he exhales, he will do this sparingly – but he will do it – because he knows on occasion that the lady enjoys in him such random acts of masculine brouhaha.

4.1 Smoking in the Home
In the case of the lady's and gentleman's respective homes and/or apartments, the lady and gentleman will together determine the extent to which, and the locations in which, smoking is appropriate. In the home especially, the lady and gentleman will share their lit cigarettes, especially the gentleman's with the lady. The gentleman will stock his apartment with dignified ashtrays, such that the lady feels significantly lady like and luxurious using them. (There exists further reading for the gentleman on this topic in Chapter 8.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Quote of the Day

"His wish is not to seem,
but be,
the best,
Reaping the deep-sown furrow
of his mind
In which all goodly counsels
have their root."

-- Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes

It is not always what it seems

"And the cradle will rock ..."
-- Van Halen

Today I read about an odd request that Van Halen (rock group)would make upon reaching all their concert venues. They would demand a bowl of M&M candies be placed in their room, with all the brown ones removed.

At first glance, it appears to be just another petty and senseless demand by spoiled rock stars.

But Van Halen recently explained the method behind their madness. If the people in charge at the venues were consciencious enough to get this little request right, then they could probably be relied on to get other, more important details right.

Foolishness thus turns out to be wisdom.

In Plutarch's "Moralia," the old Roman speaks of Odysseus (The Iliad) being put ashore somewhere by Phaeacian sailors, taking the time while standing alone on the beach to inventory his possessions -- it would seem, to determine whether the Phaecians stole any of them. Such an inventory seems a petty and useless action. But Plutarch sees it differently: Odysseus is actually convinced of the goodness of the Phaecians and takes this odd action to provide tangible proof of it.

Two thousand years separate these accounts, yet they teach us the same lesson.