Thursday, November 30, 2006

list of laughs

Having finished most of the hard part of the term (and on time too!) I find humour to be a fitting subject for a post. Yes, I took this from an e-mail but some forwards can be humourous. Enjoy!

-A lone amateur built the Ark; a large group of professionals built the Titanic.
-There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.
-You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.
-Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
-Junk is something you've kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it.
-Opportunities always look bigger going than coming.
-If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.
-For every action, there is an equal and opposite government program.
-My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.
-Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
-Don't worry about what people think, they don't do it very often.
-Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
-A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Jane Austen emotional?

You may not believe it if you have a limited perspective of Austen's writing but there is quite a bit of emotion hiding under that understated exterior. And I have several scholars' quotes to back up my assertion:
Though Persuasion moves very quietly, without sobs or screams, in drawing-rooms and country lanes, it is yet among the most emotional novels in our literature.
-Joanne Wilkes
Any red-blood writer can state passions, it takes a genius to suggest them...Persuasion is purely a cry of feeling, and if you miss the feeling, you miss all.
-Julian Kavanagh

So back off all those who call her insipid and find another author to pick on; Jane Austen clearly rules all things pertaining to novels!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Remembering our dependence on past mercies kindles gratitude. Gratitude is past-oriented dependence; faith is future-oriented dependence. Both forms of dependence are humble, self-forgetting, and God-exalting. If we do not believe that we are deeply dependent on God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude and faith runs dry.
-John Piper, A Godward Life


This particular bush is indistinguishable and unremarkable until all the leaves fall and the berries are left to shine through the cold winter.

Monday, November 27, 2006

passively progressive

It may sound like a new political party but no, this has to do with grammar, not politics.

One change in our language that started somewhere in the Early Modern period (roughly from Shakespeare to the end of the eighteenth century) was the progressive tense formed with verb 'to be' plus the present participle. An example is "I am running". However the passive progressive was still seen as improper; they would favour "while grace is saying" to "while grace is being said". A version of this older usage is preserved in our phrase: "what's cooking?" (rather than "what is being cooked").

A great excerpt from a private letter from 1795 (quoted in my textbook) illustrates in vivid language both this usage and the disgust for it:
[The passive progressive is] like a fellow whose uttermost grinder is being torn out by the roots by a mutton-fisted barber.
(italics to show the usage).

I shall conclude by saying: may you never be like that unfortunate fellow but may you continue successfully to use the passive progressive.

Friday, November 24, 2006


I've been cleaning my room this morning (the perennial pre-paper purge) and, among other things long overdue, I finally cleaned off my mirror. This may seem nothing extrodinary until you hear some of the background.

At least two years ago, in an attempt to learn the principle parts of irregular verbs for my Latin class, I wrote an extensive list of them all down my mirror. I had hoped that by putting them always before my eyes (since, of course, I look at my mirror more than anything else...) or at least readily visible I would pick them up faster and with less effort. I still think that it's a good method of memorization (although it would be easier to read on a whiteboard) but have long since passed the point of needing such a reminder. Because I became used to the writing being there I never even noticed it unless some visitor commented on it. But this same writing prevented me from ever cleaning my mirror since I didn't want to wipe it off and not have it anymore or have to rewrite the long list (it had taken me a while to write them all out). So my mirror get dustier and dirtier.

Until today when I ruthlessly wiped it clean. I didn't like to do the deed but I knew it should be done, I knew that I didn't need the list before my eyes anymore and holding on to it would be merely foolish sentimentality.

Now I see how nice it is to have a clean mirror in a clean room. I thnk that this mirror incident is typical of my attitude to many things. I am a packrat and as I accumulate things merely for the reason of keeping them (long after they have served their uses) I blindly wonder why clutter follows me. It would be nice if this lesson were to stick and I would have no more problem in that area but that's not the way life works. I learn a little at a time which can be discouraging at times but I can still hope that someday I'll be a truly ruthless cleaner.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Rootlets: the quest is sidetracked...

While in pursuit of the origins of 'sad', I have dug up some peripheral rootlets and thought I should share:

The literal sense of farce is "stuffing" (could you call a cooked turkey 'farceful' or 'farced'?). This name arose from the practice of 'stuffing' that stuff between the acts of a drama to quiet the audience.

Satire is related to my word. It comes to us through Latin from the *se-tu-ro- IndoEuropean root. Latin satur retains most of *sa-'s meaning with the definition "repleat or sated with food". From this came the phrase satura lanx which referred to a "composite dish". Hence satira began to mean a mixed literary composition especially referring to the 'satires' of Horace and Juvenal.
I'll throw a quote in the mix:
Satire is a kind of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.
-Swift from the preface to Battle of the Books (1697)
If that's the preface, it'd be interesting to read what he says in the book itself.

Also similar to this is the word satyr (insatiable mythical creatures). The source I was referring to says that the origin of this word is unknown. We can speculate that it either came from the same root by natural generation or someone somewhere along the way used the root or similar words to make this word up.

This may not be a novel saying to some but I had never come across it before: the phrase "a sad sack" came into general slang usage during WWII to refer to a maladjusted, blundering, unlucky soldier who was likeable yet always in trouble. Apparently it had been part of 'collegiate slang' during the Thirties but likely underwent the process of specialization and became widespread due to a comic strip by Gerorge Baker.

Having satisfied myself with writing these out, I shall leave you on that sad note that I might return to my studies in life (of the word), liberty (from these rootlets) and the pursuit of sadness.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Prize Cat

Pure blood domestic, guaranteed,
Soft-mannered, musical in purr,
The ribbon had declared the breed,
Gentility was in the fur.

Such feline culture in the gads
No anger ever arched her back-
What distance since those velvet pads
Departed from the leopard's track!

And when I mused how Time had thinned
The jungle strains within the cells,
How human hands had disciplined
Those prowling optic parallels;

I saw the generations pass
Along the reflex of a spring,
A bird had rustled in the grass,
The tab had caught it on the wing:

Behind the leap so furtive-wild
Was such ignition in the gleam,
I thought an Abyssinian child
Had cried out in the whitethroat's scream.

-E.J. Pratt

Monday, November 20, 2006


A glimpse of the last hollyhock of summer enjoying its day in the sunbefore it gives way to the holly that belongs to a different season!


More random quotes that I unearthed on my desk:
Loneliness is a reminder to me that God longs for my fellowship even more than I long for the fellowship of others.

True gentleness is founded on a sense of what we owe to Him who made us and to the common nature which we all share. It arises from reflection on our own failings and wants, and from just views of the condition and duty of man. It is a native feeling heightened and improved by principle. -Hugh Blair

Love is the wisdom of the fool and the folley of the wise. -S. Johnson

Saturday, November 18, 2006


The paper yesterday said that we have had rain fifty-two out of the last seventy-six days. And that excludes days that it has been cloudy without rain. So to brighten things up a bit, here are a brace of bracing pictures to prove that the sun does shine sometime (and it will again) along with some classic lyrics from Annie
The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be sun! Just thinkin' about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow 'til there's none. When I'm faced with a day that's grey and lonely, I just stick out my chin and grin and say: the sun will come out, tomorrow, so you gotta hang on 'till tomorrow come what may. Tomorrow, tomorrow I love you tomorrow you're always a day away...
I don't want to sound cheesy here (but I can see it coming) this time of cloud and rain is alot like our life here on earth as we wait for the Son to come back. We can let these periods depress us or we can live for the hope of eternity with the Son and let him teach us patience through difficulties.

Friday, November 17, 2006

not a deconstructionist

Of course language is not an infallible guide, but it contains, with all
its defects, a good deal of stored insight and experience. If you begin by flouting it, it has a way of avenging itself later on.
-C.S. Lewis from the Introduction in The Four Loves.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Frying-pan and Fire

My hand is still sore.

Sometimes it seems as though professors get together and plan to put loads of work on students all at once. We can speculate whether this is because they think it's funny (if they have a strange sense of humour), or if they enjoy loading on the work (if they're evil), or perhaps it is to spur the students on to greater things (I guess for the good of the students) and to give them the reward of finishing all the work at once. But no matter if they are conscious of it or not, piles of work tend to pile up around the end of term.

This being close to the end of the term, today I had two midterms in as many classes. These two exams were particularly matched:
both in 1 1/2 hour classes (and 1 1/2 hours apart)
both in full-year credit courses
both in required courses for English majors (so literature exams)
both consisting (almost) exclusively of essay questions
both worth the same percentage of their respective courses

By the end of the second exam (having written furiously for three hours) my hand was cramping but I was fairly elated. One positive thing (as mentioned above) about having both on the same day is that they are both over on the same day and I do not have to head home to study for another exam (at least not for another month or so)!

Instead I have to write papers.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Horse

A Biblical view:
Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?
Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible.
He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men.
He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword.
The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield.
He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.
He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting. Job 39:19-25
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7
He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy. Psalm 147:10,11.
Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Psalm 32:9.
The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD. Proverbs 21:31

Monday, November 13, 2006

Label news

Thanks to blogger's update I can, along with other things, apply labels to all my posts. I've come up with a few general topic headings that seem to cover the majority of categories I've covered. This sort of thing holds great appeal to my organizational side so it's an exciting step forward for Still Waters and its Poster. The information from blogger shows other new and exciting options as part of the package but so far this is the only one I'm interested in (and so the only one I've used).

It is my hope, dear Reader, that these updates will enhance your reading pleasure.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Part the first: Affection

I just finished reading Lewis' The Four Loves last night and would like to share a few of the passages I underlined. As an aside, I do realize that I am setting myself up with all these 'first in a series' and 'to be continued' entries for failure of completion but I truly would like to continue these posts and think that by showing my intent openly I might be forced to follow up. Time will tell.

In the chapter titled 'Affection' Lewis describes this love thus:
The especial glory of Affection is that it can unite those who most emphatically, even comically, are not; people who, if they had not found themselves put down by fate in the same household or community, would have had nothing to do with each other. If Affection grows out of this--of course it often does not--their eyes begin to open.
When we reach the point of fondness of others this
means that we are getting beyond our own idiosyncrasies, that we are learning to appreciate goodness or intelligence in themselves, not merely goodness or intelligence flavoured and served to suit our own palate.
He talks of how it is easy to like our friends but that:
The truly wide taste in humanity will similarly find something to appreciate in the cross-section of humanity whom one has met every day.
However, he also points out (as he does with each form of love) that Affection--on its own--is neutral: it can be brought down by sin or raised by God's love. Lewis demonstrates that this is not the view most people hold toward love (I would venture to say that this is probably the result of common grace--that love is experienced or understood by most more often on the good side).
Affection is often assumed to be provided, ready made, by nature...We have a right to expect it. If the others do not give it, they are "unnatural"...
The "built-in" or unmerited character of Affection thus invites a hideous misinterpretation. So does its ease and informality...
the very same conditions of intimacy which make Affection possible also--and no less naturally--make possible a peculiar incurable distaste; a hatred as immemorial, constant, unemphatic, almost at times unconscious, as the corresponding form of love.
He describes courtesy, the outworking of true Affection:
The more intimate the occasion, the less the formalisation; but no therefore the less need of courtesy. On the contrary, affection at its best practices a courtesy which is incomparably more subtle, sensitive and deep than the public kind. In public a ritual would do. At home you must have the reality which that ritual must really give no kind of preference to yourself; at a party it is enough to conceal the preference...Those who leave their manners behind them when they come home...have no real courtesy even there. They were merely aping those who had.
And finally a few miscellaneous quotes that support his argument yet also stand well on their own (I feel as though I might as well write out the chapter in its entirety or just recommend you read the book yourself since Lewis is much better at representing himself than my mediatory comments and unfortunate gaps could ever hope to do)
-The proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift.
-[All loves carry] in them the seeds of hatred. If Affection is made the absolute sovereign of a human life the seeds will germinate. Love, having become a god, becomes a demon.
-The unappreciativeness of the others...enabled her to feel ill-used, therefore, to have a continual grievance, to enjoy the pleasures of resentment.
-The really surprising thing is not that these insatiable demands made by the unlovable are sometimes made in vain, but that they are so often met.
-Affection will arise and grow strong without demanding any very shining qualities in its objects. If it is given us it will not necessarily be given us on our merits; we may get it with very little trouble.
-Once when I had remarked on the affection quite often found between cat and dog, my friend replied, "Yes. But I bet no dog would ever confess it to the other dogs."
-Affection would not be affection if it was loud and frequently expressed.
And a final quote (I promise) on the world's ideas of normality:
Medicine labours to restore "natural" structure or "normal" function. But greed, egoism, self-deception and self-pity are not unnatural or abnormal in the same sense as astigmatism or a floating kidney. For who, in Heaven's name, would describe as natural or normal the man from whom these failings were wholly absent? "Natural", if you like, in a quite different sense; archnatural, unfallen. We have seen only one such Man. And He was not at all like the psychologist's picture of the integrated, balanced, adjusted, happily married, employed, popular citizen. You can't really be very well "adjusted" to your world if it says you "have a devil" and ends by nailing you up naked to a stake of wood.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Roots: The Story Begins...

In my History of the English Language class (I think it's the only class I've mentioned here yet), our next assignment is to write a boigraphy of an English word. The Indo-European root of this word (according to one source) is *sa- which means 'to satisfy'. From this small seed (with various morphations such as *sa-to-, *sa-ti-, *sa-tu-ro & *sa-d-ro-) come several good English words, many of which preserve the original meaning (sate, satiate, satisfy, saturate).

Some, however, come to us through interesting channels: 'assai' is a musical term from Italian (of course) which means 'very' (as in allegro assai). This comes from the Vulgar Latin ad satis 'to sufficiency' (notice how the 'a' is added to the root by metathesis of juncture). But also stemming from this same Vulgar Latin phrase is our word 'asset'! "How?" you may ask. It came to England in the Angl-Norman times and was combined into 'asez' which became 'asetz' which obviously changed to 'assets' Which held the (I'm assuming legal) meaning of 'sufficient goods to settle Testator's debts or legacies'.

This is all well and good but the word that I am writing about is 'sad'. How is this related to the root meaning 'to satisfy'?! Are they not fairly opposite in meaning? I guess you'll just have to wait and see since this topic is

TO BE CONTINUED... (who would have thought I'd resort to gimmics to keep people coming back?)