Monday, October 29, 2012

In which I learn About Cars

Yesterday was the last Sunday in October, and traditionally, the date upon which the Feast of Christ the King was celebrated. It was also the feast day of St. Jude, the patron of impossible cases, to whom one might pray when faced with insurmountable difficulties. Furthermore, according to this website, it was National Chocolate Day. Talk about a day fraught with import! I meant to do a post yesterday, making a big deal of all of that. And, really I would have... but that was before my car overheated as I was coming up the mountain, home from Sunday Mass. And despite the addition of oil and coolant, and the 20 minute rest I gave it, it continued to overheat.

To say that I found this distressing would be a grave understatement. I was quite torn between a desire to swear like a sailor, and the compulsion to burst into tears. I did neither, which was sensible of me. Even more sensibly, I pulled open the hood again, and, undeterred by the tangle of metal, wires and hoses that make up the innards of a car, set myself about figuring out why exactly neither oil nor coolant had remedied the situation. After a brief perusal... "well, lookie there! There is a hole in that hose there..... and it appears that my coolant is leaking out of that hole!" Time to call in Dad.

Have a really great Dad. He came at once, armed with gallons and gallons of water, and the determination to get me and my car home in one piece. We tried the water first, and when the radiator could take no more, we tried driving home.... Five minutes later, the car was overheating, and Dad was looking at the hole in the hose. Water and the dregs of coolant were streaming out the hole, and there was considerable wetness, where wetness ought not to be. My Dad, who is handy as well as obliging, studied the situation for a bit, removed the hose, and hacked off about two inches or so - enough to get rid of the hole. The hose just  fit back on again, and to my great delight, we were able to get my car home with no trouble. By that time, I had been stuck on the mountain for nigh onto three hours. I had a headache, and could have eaten a horse. (Though maybe not the scabby horse my friend always swears he could eat.)

As a result of this, I have learned a couple things that make me much handier than I was previously. To begin with, I know what a top radiator hose is, and where it is located on my vehicle. I took the car over to Dad's house today, along with a replacement hose, and now know how to replace a top radiator hose, should this situation ever arise again. (Though I dearly hope it does not.) Furthermore, I learned that I should have been paying closer attention to those old MacGyver shows we used to watch. MacGyver always averred that a person should always have duct tape handy, and a Swiss army knife as well. Of course, MacGyver used those things, mixed with a dash of high school chemistry, to thwart the evil machination of various thugs, villains and warlords. The principle still holds, though. Had I been in possession of either one of those items, I could have patched my top radiator hose myself. I bought duct tape today.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Gallimaufry*

* Gallimaufry: a confused jumble or medley of things... which is what this post is going to be. 

Working in a bookish profession, as I do, and in the public sphere as well, can lead to some mighty odd conversations. I had one of those odd conversations recently. A very nice lady wanted help finding a book. Close interrogation of the matter revealed that she could not recall the title of the book. Nor the author, for that matter. She had even forgotten the main character's name. She could not remember anything at all about the plot. All she could remember was that this book was the first book in the series, and what she really wanted was the second book. Unfortunately, I could not help her. She was quite downcast by this news.

I recently came across an old Telegraph article about once common old words dying out of the English language. I found the article very sad, since I love words, and firmly believe that one can never have too broad a vocabulary. Therefore, in order to do my bit to stop this disintegration of my native tongue, I am sharing five uncommon but highly useful words, which would put a bit of colour back into daily exchanges:

   1. Soothfast: truthful or honest.
            Be soothfast; is this dress suitable for Lord Grenville's ball?

   2. Keelivine: a lead pencil
          Hand me that keelivine, that I may take notes on this fascinating article.

   3. Twattling: to gossip or talk too much.
          Stop your twattling and tell me the last time you saw Sherlock in here.

   4. Belike: with considerably certainty.
          If you keep making that expression, your face is belike to stay that way.

   5. Diversivolent: looking for an argument.
         Brace yourself, lads, the customers are mighty diversivolent today.

Rather to my surprise, there has been great interest in my remark about knowing the life cycle of a jellyfish. This being the case, I am posting this little sketch I did, laying out the cycle for all to see. (I shall be soothfast, and admit I had to look up the proper name for the ephyra.) And now you all know too!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Blog Award.

My, my. How very delightful! Teresa, over at Occasional Randomness, has presented me with the Liebster Blog Award. Aww. Thanks Treski!

So, according to the rules, I am supposed to do the  following:

1. Post eleven facts about myself.

2. Answer the eleven questions the awarder has given me and make up eleven questions for my awardees to answer in turn.

3. Tag eleven fellow bloggers

4. Notify them that I've awarded them

5. No tagging back

6. And the eleven blogs you tag must have less than 200 followers.

Well... I can oblige with the first two steps. Unfortunately, I do not know 11 people to whom I might present this award, and the few people I would normally pass it along to, already show up amongst Teresa's list. That being the case, I shall merely deliver myself of a good deal of trivia, and leave it at that. First, here, in no particular order, are 11 facts about myself:

1.) In case it is not obvious from this blog, I shall come right out and say it. I collect scores of pointless trivia. I am the Trivia Queen. Would you like to hear about the life cycle of a jelly fish? I can tell you all about it. From memory.

2.) I can knit. My very first project was an Aran Sweater. Yes, it was ambitious, but I figured if I had to go to all the bother of learning the craft (and I did have to, it was related to Work.) I wanted to produce something I would actually wear. Here is it:

And having achieved that, I decided that I had about all the knitting I could take, and have not completed another project since... But I can knit.

3.) I have a sword, and I know how to use it. Actually, I have two swords: the lighter foil, with the tip capped off, so that I may merely 'kill' my opponent, but not hurt him; and the hand and a half sword with a live point. I took fencing classes for a number of years, and got to be pretty good at it. My favourite style was to fight with two short swords.

4.) I am exceedingly fond of popcorn, lightly buttered and salted. I cannot resist the stuff. Do not ask me why. I cannot tell you.

5.) Coffee has no effect on me whatsoever. It does not wake me up, nor keep me awake. I can drink cup after cup of it, day after day, (and believe me, I do.) but if I give it up cold turkey - for Lent, for example - I do not suffer the usual withrdawls that afflict most coffee drinkers.

6.) I have a funny accent - a Canadian accent, apparently; and a Canadian once mistook me for a Newfie. When I am being particularly earnest, this accent thickens up a bit, and comes out as sounding like and uneasy compromise between an Irish brogue and a Scottish burr. It confuses people.

7.) I do not feel the cold very easily, and I love soft, grey days... and mist... and rain... and snow. I am happiest during wild weather.

8.) I have been known to gad about the landscape, draped in a long green cloak of my own creation. Cloaks are cosy and practical, and a lot of fun to wear. And they make a great off-hand weapon during a swordfight.

9.) There is a misconception floating about, that I can fix anything. This is Not True, and I thank you to crush those rumours wherever you hear them. However, if you are desperate, and ask nicely enough, I will give it my best shot... unless it involves computers.

10. I once translated The Song of the Sword of Alan (from Stevenson's Kidnapped) into Quenya. It seemed The Thing To Do.

11.) Rumour has it that I have a secret identity. Opinion is divided as to whether this alter-ego is a grey, gloomy creature, who knows all about the Grand and Glorious 'A', or a big-headed android named Marvin.

And now for Teresa's questions:

1.) Who's you're favorite musician and why? (Does not include singers this time.)
     Seriously? One single, solitary favourite musician who is not a singer? Goes through The List: James Galway, whose flute technique is so distinctive, you know you're listening to him before you here his name mention? Alasdair Fraser who does the same thing for fiddle? Mark Knopfler, who change my mind about whether an electric guitar can be beautiful? Paddy Maloney, who make the Chieftains what they are? The piping instructors at Balmoral School of Piping and Drumming, who are all insanely talented, but who treat us lowly students like equals, because we are All Pipers in a Glorious Tradition? I can't decided. Take your pick.

2.) Do you think the Beatles overrated?
     Definitely. I find the modern adoration of the Beatles odd and somewhat disturbing. I really, really, really don't care for John Lennon on any level. The heathen.

3.) Did you ever want to be a Ginger?
     Sadly, yes. But then I met a Ginger and got over it.

4.) QUICK! PICK A NUMBER BETWEEN ONE AND TEN! Now, why did you chose that one? Why!? WHY?!?
     Gah! Too much pressure! I refuse to participate.

5.) How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
     42. It is The Answer.

6.) Who started the American Navy?
     John Paul Jones. He was a Scot. It probably explains a lot: 

7.) What's your favorite music genre?
     Anything I consider Good Music, and opposed to that other stuff that is Not Good. But if you are going to pin me down to a definite answer, Irish and Scottish music - think Clancy Brothers and Corries, Chieftains and bagpipes. God save us from that generic "Celtic" stuff.

8.) Have you ever played baseball? (even in the backyard with friends works.)
     Yes. My Nono, after all, was largely responsible for the Little League program in town. It would be considered in Very Bad Taste, if I hadn't played it. Now that I'm grown (or as grown as I am going to get), I prefer football (non-American) and hockey. I like speed and violence in my games.

9.) What are your top five favorite books? (because I know that I can never chose just one)
     Oh, boy... I hate this question. I am going to presume that you mean fictional titles, which will cut out a couple of contenders. So, The Lord of the Rings obviously. The Sherwood Ring is one of my go-to books when I want something to cheer me up. I love Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Alan Breck Stewart is one of the most incorrigibly likable characters in fiction. The Outlaws of Ravenhurst has been a favourite since I was yea-high, and when I re-read it recently, I remembered why. It is good. The Hands of Cormac Joyce because it is a sweet, beautiful and wise book.

10.) What is your favorite accent?
     Ye canna tell frae a wee glance o th' blog? Actually, tis a toss up. Irish accents are lovely, especially South of Ireland. And then there are Scottish accents, and the Glasgow accent in particular... Ehm, if I am being honest, I will just out and admit that accent are never-endingly fascinating, and I love them all.

11.) Do you know the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything?
      Yes. But since I have not yet calculated the Ultimate Question, alas, it does me no good.