January 2009


I realized decades ago in graduate school that OK, i’m not really a scholar, but still there’s a little streak of it in me, and every now and then i run across something that makes my heart pitter before my head patters. Like somehow blundering last night onto this Wikipedia graphic of Faroese isoglosses:

Ahhhh, don’t those southerners talk funny!

A key sentence of the accompanying text reads: “… Faroese … has a very atypical pronunciation of its vowels, with odd offglides and other features.”

Thirty years ago I was discussing the character of a mutual acquaintance with Allen’s friend Laura when she interrupted me, giggling, “I just love hearing you say that.” Didn’t understand what she was talking about until she carefully pronounced for me “a-yes ho-ule” [IPA approximately æjəs hoʊəl] in the Texas accent that i had had in those days mostly lost except in stressed moments.

Yes, those “odd offglides”.

And speaking of offglides, I glided off the other day down to the Noe Valley Bakery with the fully premeditated intent of buying one of their divine pecan pies. They had me cold: I’d saved the packaging from the previous one and had it with me so that my virtue in not wasting all that paper and cardboard would outweigh the vice of eating most of the pie myself. Luckily, the pie is seasonal, and the season is over, so I had to settle for this lo-cal shot of the BofA ATM across the street in the winter morning sun:


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Here’s a tasty tidbit from the 23 June 2008 The New Yorker, which had got buried for six months but was paid for and thus had to be read.

In a splendid article on the cave art in Southern France, Judith Thurman writes: “From a corner table in the dining room [in a hotel in Foix], I could watch the swollen Ariège river flowing toward a distant wall of snow-covered peaks – the Pyrenees – that were black against a livid sunset.”

Ms. Thurman does not say so, but i am speculating that there is a local folk belief that two drops from this miraculous river on the forehead of a true believer can cure the plague. But only a true believer. And the holy water must be taken from the river just at the point at which, high in the mountains and pitifully shrunken, it flows into a small crack in the rocks.

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Journal 2009

To start the year, i found this Diamond Street siding just irresistible:


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