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Ice and Holiday Miscellany

Some ice and snow made the commute hellish last night, and ice on the roads this morning slowed my morning drive a touch. Nothing too bad for a Midwesterner used to winter conditions, but probably fairly scary to the locals who see snow once at year, and ice less often.

Anyway, here's a summary of the many strange things one learns from other people during holiday conversations. I love long rambling conversations, and so do my family and learned friends, as you might guess:

  • In Germany, librarians were taught a special form of handwriting for use on professional documents.
  • The definition of "sweet milk": it's what we now call just milk, but it sounds better, doesn't it?
  • The origins of Afrikaans as a distinct language date to the 18th century and are modeled on English language structures (!).
  • Motorists aren't the only ones in Seattle latched onto their cell phones. Bicyclists are now doing it as well; just saw one on Saturday.
  • Bellevue has a Japanese garden, the Yao Japanese Garden, as part of the Bellevue Botanical. It's not nearly as formal as the Seattle Japanese Garden in the Arboretum, but then, the Bellevue one is open all winter, and the camellias are blooming right now.
  • "It's spectacular in the spring, when the hyphens migrate to the sea."
  • There's a huge difference between Shetlanders and Scots, and there'd be even more if the King of Denmark had paid the dowry he promised. The Shetlanders even have their own language.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was not just a poet; he was also a privy councillor responsible for the mines in Weimar. Mind you, as a poet he was a millionaire, but he still had this peculiar day job to please his patron, the Duke.
  • There's an annual conference for medievalists in Kalamazoo, MI. I'm inordinately amused by the combination of "medieval" and "Kalamazoo".

In book news, I saw the cover flats of Mr. Baggins and Return to Bag End, the new part titles of the History of the Hobbit by John D. Rateliff. Very good-looking books these are going to be, and the images on Amazon.uk don't do their metallic foil justice. It amuses me that they have part titles, just as LotR does.


( 15 sutras — Your wisdom )
Nov. 28th, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC)
You win for best holiday conversations!
Nov. 28th, 2006 07:28 pm (UTC)
Frankly I think we surprised ourselves.

Thanksgiving meal started around 1 PM and continued with pauses, seconds, more pauses, desserts, wine &c until after 9 PM. Conversation never stopped, and once I put down my knife and fork, I had to jot down a couple notes.

Anyway, I'm quite thankful to have learned company on a holiday; football on the TV can't compete.
Nov. 28th, 2006 08:30 pm (UTC)
Wow, you went in today? :O

I salute you, Sir! I hope your commute home tonight is better than last night! :)
Nov. 29th, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
The thing is, I still operate under the default Chicago assumption that no matter how bad the snow is, the next day the plows and salt have taken care of it.

Turns out, that's not true here. But really, the roads were pretty much empty, and with a little extra caution, it was totally doable. Of course, I was one of exactly 4 people in my department of 20 who actually came in...
Nov. 29th, 2006 06:01 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we who grew up on the West Coast don't really know what to do in the snow or ice. ;D

Glad you got in and home safely. :)
Nov. 28th, 2006 08:53 pm (UTC)
Milk varietals
Funny you should mention sweet milk, as I spent a fair portion of our Tday evening researching the differences between condensed and evaporated milk. Since I have a multitude of cooking books, that quickly evolved into reading all the dairy sections and learning how to make soy milk. I really can get sucked into my cookbooks.

Sounds like a lovely meal and great company!
Nov. 29th, 2006 12:46 am (UTC)
Re: Milk varietals
You can make your own soy milk?! That's pretty cool, and very smart, since the stuff is a bit pricey at the store.
Nov. 29th, 2006 05:19 am (UTC)
Re: Milk varietals
Well after reading the recipe, I suspect buying it the store is a bargain, if you count how much your time is worth. Kind of complicated deal -- the neat part was that you could either keep the milk as is or then turn around and make it into tofu!
Nov. 29th, 2006 01:17 am (UTC)
You should post more posts like this. That was neat information. :)
Nov. 29th, 2006 03:50 am (UTC)
It was a neat conversation!

Honestly, I was surrounded by smart folks and just trying to keep up... And don't even get me started on the connections between Milton Friedman's crackpot theories of subsidies as applied to East Germany.
Nov. 29th, 2006 01:19 am (UTC)
I have heard that the only people on the roads in the West Coast are New Englanders. That clearly needs to expand to include Chicagoers. (Chicagites? Chicagmites?)
Nov. 29th, 2006 09:13 pm (UTC)
Chicagoans is what we says in these here parts.

The sheep are a little rattled today as we our expecting are first major ice and snow storm, after days of 50+, here in central Illinois!

-Harker Wade
Dec. 4th, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC)
I went to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo and worked in the Print shop on Campus. I remember having to print up booklets for them. I remember thinking "what language are these guys going to be speaking in?" and "will there be knights???"
But it turned out to be a bunch of stuffy old scholars who thought that fun was arguing about what dialectic of old English captures the nuisances of Chaucer the best.
No knights...
Dec. 4th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC)
Bummer. I was hoping at least for some panels on "Peasant Revolts: Threat or Menace?" or maybe "Vambraces and Coursers: Ten Tips for the Well-Dressed Knight". Or "Monkish Menus: What Cloistered Orders *Really* Ate to Get So Fat".

Though Chaucer is certainly entertaining.
Dec. 7th, 2006 01:28 am (UTC)
Having been there myself, I don't think that the scholars are nearly so stuffy. (Well, some of them were, but that's another story...) As for good topics, it just depends on where you look. The Tolkien series was quite fun. – Wishing I had the current catalogue in front of me... -

(And just to prove exactly what you were saying... Chaucer was written in Middle English with a London Dialect. Now arguing about the dialect of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was fun. :D )
( 15 sutras — Your wisdom )

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