Accordant Summits and Newton’s Laws

I love maps, all my life they’ve whispered to me. I spin imaginary globes in my mind and imagine a sphere metamorphosing from three dimensions to two in arcane and artful ways.

Lines of longitude and latitude: which is which? Here is a mnemonic to help:

Lines of latitude are like the rungs of a ladder extending from Equator to Pole. The ladder rungs connect along the long lines of longitude (left and right side of the ladder). There’s something curious about that ladder — it connects to a single point at the top or bottom of the Earth.

The Mercator Projection takes the two points of the two terrestrial poles and stretches them from zero to infinity. A Mercator projection was designed for one thing only, and though that one use is obsolete,  Mercator dies on.

 

USGS topographic quadrangles describe a rectangle representing 7.5 minutes of arc. A quadrangle at the Equator is a square, a quadrangle at the North or South Poles is a triangle.

You can trace landscapes on a paper topographic quadrangle. There is a symbol available for every conceivable landmark, including the occasional sunken ship.

Our geomorphology tour now takes us to Cincinnati, OH. I’m the guide with the microphone at the front of the bus. Here’s what I am saying:

“A gently arcing dome once defined Cincinnati’s geomorphology. The most recent glaciation crushed the entire city under a couple hundred feet of solid ice, creating a set of hills carved from that arcing dome. When you stand on any of the surrounding hills you see all the other hills: 360 degrees surrounding a central point, each separated from the others by a number of miles. The technical term is ‘accordant summits’.”

treppen.concept

Time to share a memory with you.

In the 1960’s our family would spend two-weeks in the northern oven-mitt of Michigan, we drove from Cincinnati on US Route 27  — a two-lane highway that also extends into Florida. We would unfold a free gas-station roadmap and wait for a city limit sign to appear on the horizon. I would run a black marker up the lap-held map as the drive progressed northward. A pre-cursor if you will.

There were no automobile seat belts in 1964 — each occupant had the unfettered freedom to pass directly through the windshield in a way explained by Isaac Newton. To paraphrase Isaac: an object in motion wants to just keep on moving: even when everything else stops moving.

first.law.motion

Time now for an anecdote.

We were headed to a cottage in Michigan in one of those years (1964) when no passenger vehicles came equipped with seat belts.

I’m the guide with microphone at the front of the bus again:

“My mother held my youngest sister securely in her lap, front passenger side. Shifting her position, mom leaned against the passenger-door, felt that door open and saw the rushing roadway beneath them. But my mother knew about the first law of motion. Her objective: stop two objects in motion from following the lawful course identified by Newton. She successfully moved the center of gravity leftward by shifting their inclination inward, and by yanking the passenger door to a latched state.

The moral of this anecdote: understanding physics saves  lives.”

twerking.passenger

Thanks for reading.

The Case of the Missing Article

The Case of the Missing Article by E. Stanley, the Gardener.

“In the days before the arrival of the cicadas, the frogs and the dreadnoughts, in the land of the dead, the gardener tended the garden green. Suddenly a shot rang out.”

The” is definite English, it’s been that way since the Vikings killed the sixteen ways the Saxons (Sachsen) spoke, ways always to denote nouns. A part of speech now dead in the Isles of the Brit, many eons afore days of present kind.

To the victor goes the grammar. “THE” spake the Viking, and it was so.

Word order reigns where inflection governs. Do away with inflection and you become a slave to word order. By good fortune I suffered the arrows and the slings of Latin in high school. An introduction to case-driven tongues, that’s what it was.

scribblers.sculptors.scribes
Wheelock’s Latin

I’ve since revived my high-school understanding of Latin via (a Latin preposition you understand) the Wheelock method. I think that it’s fun to discover unexpected similarities between German and Latin, ones that originated in Indo-European. The preposition “in” uses the same cases (dative and accusative) to denote intra and inter movement, respectively. Now that is what I call a good time. A grand substitute for the dreadnought of sports`. In very fact, I am extraordinarily ignorant of any iota embalmed as sport.

indo.european.migrations

I like to bounce around among crowds of languages, to weigh their lot for commonalities, patterns and purposes.

No writings remain of Indo-European, the common root tongue for hundreds of languages. A tongue spoken in a geography we now call Ukraine and vicinity.

The English word “scribe” finds origin in the German schreiben.

Schreiben — writing.

Scribe – writer, transcription, scrivener (of Bartleby fame).

bartleby

When teaching German I would often encounter worthy mnemonics to aid student learning. Once, while writing the German verb “beschreiben” on the blackboard I noticed that its English equivalent “to describe” possessed an unexpected aspect: pivot the round part around the vertical part of the letter “b”, the letter “d.”

b d b d

beschreiben/describe

rotate the “b” to fashion a “d”, rotate a “d” to fashion a “b.”

be de are inseparable prefixes that lend flavor and spice to a foundational word, such as schreiben or scribe. It’s also great fun to encounter such things — the stuff of useful heuristics.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

Languages, Escape Velocity and Bigly Lies

Learning a second or 3rd or 4th language is like escaping the gravity of your native land. You probe about in another way of being, of thinking, of observing. Better still — if you’ve the inclination — learn another tongue via a second or third language. Meet the stranger in a place foreign to each.

I am so grateful for my Palestinian student who decided to learn German via English, without recourse to his native Arabic. He inspired me to do the same — learn Arabic by way of German. “arabisch lernen”

arabisch.lernen

German from the baby steps to fluency. The magic of YouTube brings me teachers who speak their mother’s Arabic in a German-speaking land. I studied in Germany for a year and a half. The other international students joined me to prepare for lessons conducted in German. Japanese medical students already knew anatomical terms, because their forefathers carried it back to Japan — including decades as fellow Axis members. Gray’s Anatomy with German body parts

Some lessons I’ve learned

Iranian students taught me about Savak and their Shah many years before the Revolution of 1979. Krupp established large industrial site in that Persian land. An industrial giant since the 16th Century. A family tradition, Blut und Eisen.

Propaganda relies upon endlessly repeated mistranslations, designed to obfuscate. Weaponized language to serve hidden agendas, to move geopolitical stakes through sabotage, bigotry, racism, straw men, false flags, pacification, liquidation; in other words, chicanery of any convenient kind. Whatever works. No questions asked.

Walls visible and invisible. Sow the seeds of discontent to ignite anger. Divide and conquer. British imperialists deliberately provoked Sunni and Shia rivalries by locating them within an arbitrary borderline. Think of it as double solitary confinement. A technique that works wonders: encourage each to fight the other over differences deep as the empire gathers spoils of conquest, to the victor go the value subtracted.

History remembered is myth created by the most talented liars. Every American recites the same short soundbites: flag-shaded collective memories. Memorized lies to mask disquieting truth. 1,000 memorized lies. Cherrypick and pass on. Manufacture your destiny as something somehow manifest by a deity for your outrageous fortune. Cloying spoilings.

shadid_lewis
Kresta and Spencer find a convenient fool

Conduct experiments on war fodder soldiers and increase your “intelligence.” Handbooks written by Chinese military master torturers were translated verbatim and reapplied in Guantanamo — word by evil word.

Accuse Cuba of human rights violations while torturing prisoners on Cuban soil. Announce bounties — turn in someone you hate, an enemy or a randomly selected person, a stranger. Get paid for lying about an innocent neighbor. Extraordinary rendition is spuriously twisted language designed by twisted authority to mask torture by proxy. Look the other way. Justify everything. Celebrate the patriotic art of bigly deals. Endless war for endless profit. Drop MOABS and cut a purchase order for replacement MOABS.

This morning I read a piece from Mark Chmiel’s blog — Mistake. Dark serendipity in the same tone and key. Thank you, Mark.

And

Thanks for reading.

LEGO, AUDIO, VIDEO: I Read, I Hear, I See

As April 30 yielded to May 1, I recalled that Old-Time Radio will have passed the wand over to New-Time Television exactly 55 years ago this coming September 30; in fact, the final two shows turned their microphones off on the same day.

JD_Button

In the unlikely event that you have already guessed which two programs made it curtains for that classic era, I roll the timpani — or cue the crickets.

Und so:

  1. Suspense
  2. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar

Three suggestions for those new to the realm — a land wide, deep and satisfying.

  1. Vic and Sade
  2. Pat Novak for Hire
  3. Inner Sanctum
Vic-And-Sade-mp3
Paul Rhymer was the genius behind Vic and Sade

I have a soft spot in my heart for programs that settle into my psyche by way of sound waves — words existing on the printed page give your mind the means to fashion words to worlds. To use my sagacious father’s favorite phrase

“Well, let’s put it this way” — I prefer lego (I read) and audio (I hear) to video (I see). Reader or listener rather than viewer, what gives? Reading and listening demand more of the imagination. Theater of the Mind. Not my coined phrase, but dramatically accurate.

 

vacuum.tube.radio.deviant.art

Personally, viewing alone is like drinking alone — the experience doesn’t end well. It might work splendidly for thee, but not for me. In other words, judging my readers is never my aim (file under marginalia).

On with the show.

Watching TV with others involves participation. Joel Hodgson is the genius behind MST 3000 — an absolutely brilliant concept that sets Hodgson’s haplessly condemned yet innocent victim off planet, and forced to watch amazingly bad movies, a torture you may have experienced personally. Joel and his Bots (his own creation by the way) breaks that fourth wall too, perhaps a fifth wall.

Full disclosure: Lisa would rather shout VIDEO, ERGO SUM to my AUDIO, ERGO SUM. Well, let’s put it this way: we complement each other. So there!

video-ergo-sum-680x400
I view, therefor I am

During my years in West Germany (1971 to 1973), watching television was only good for language learning. Here is a recommendation for the next time you surf 255 channels — set subtitles to another language. Better still: watch a foreign film and set the subtitles to a language you want to learn. Experiencing a world without English language is a rare delight. I recommend it most heartily.  🙂

Advertisers want to make you think that the volition is entirely yours. IMO (only?), we do not live in the best of all possible worlds. Though you might be surprised to read that veganism is an effective remedy for that  imposition of schizophrenia upon readers, listeners and viewers. Blood-toothed marketers wish to either introduce or reinforce product loyalty. FTS say I. Out damned blood! FWIW, I pay an annual fee to keep this site advertising-free.

Addendum: I didn’t know that FTS was a sports term, so I pass that torch to my sports broadcasting alter ego. It was intended as a term of frustration directed at frustrating the darker side of advertising. Channel to ESPN-42 for more 🙂

Thanks for reading.

 

 

From Vegan to Veganist and Beyond

A fellow blogger recently submitted a question to this desk, actually it’s not a desk but a dining room table without dead animals on it.

el.dolor.es.igual
Animal liberation. human liberation

How long have you been vegan?

So I decided to ramble on about it right here…

…in a bid for garish aggrandizement, Bill?

No, in consideration of all the fellow sentient-beings that I have not killed by proxy several times today and several times tomorrow. Enlightenment brings more than inspiration and a healthier lifestyle — it entails (not entrails) a responsibility for passing the word forward for a better world.

It started with a flyer on a nondescript table in a university hallway 30 years ago (now three-sevenths of my life) — reasons for adopting a vegan diet. It was as dramatic as it was nonchalant.

During the first ten years I discovered that vegetarianism (keeping eggs, dairy and cheese in your diet) kept my body supplied with animal-derived molecules that fueled a craving for animal byproducts — the organs that excrete toxins, including your skin, were self-sabotaged. Detox is not pleasant, but there is no alternative. Not tossing meatables into a shopping cart results in fewer factory-farm orders for meatables.

I also discovered that fermented liquids might be a perfectly vegan alternative lifestyle choice, not all poisons come in animal-laden packages. That detox was also not very pleasant — just speaking from experience.

This great little saying is still my favorite for its truth and pithhood:

Every time you eat or drink

 

lunchables.uploaded.taco
W.T.F.!

Search the internet for ‘vegan’ and ‘health’ to find statements from people who tried to become vegan but suffered from fatigue until they went back to meat. It takes as long as a year for toxins and craves to leave the body. “Out damned toxin!” But it literally liberates your mind and your brain.

In your opinion, Billy. Spam brought the Philippines into this modern world. Capiche? 

I have discovered personally that your brain seeks alternate paths when not blogged down by crap. Check out the ingredients on fast-crap that people chew and chug all day. Dozens of long-named laboratory labels are strange, but not as loathsome as their crave-inducing effects. But who am I to question trillion-dollar industries?

 

meatables
Veganism is brain friendly

How can 97% of the consuming public be wrong, Bill? Think about it and shut up.

I’m just paranoid I guess. Sorry ’bout that.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

Working on Computers in 1975

Let’s flip the toggle switch on my steampunked time machine and head back to 1975 — the year Gordon Moore revised his hypothesis on the potential exponential growth of computing power, now known as Moore’s Law: computing power doubles every two years. He surprised himself at its curious accuracy.

moore.graph
Semi.Wiki (a semiconductor’s discussion site

Let’s go back to 1975, a year when Singer built business computers — I worked on a Singer System 10. That sewing-machine outfit made a foray into small business systems, a foray that ended abruptly in 1976.

 

singer.computer
A fine two-tone-dial phone with rotary dial.

Ten years later I was assigned the task of converting a completely manual order processing system at a Cincinnati Milacron division in Blanchester, Ohio. They obtained a small business computer, a wardrobe-sized unit called a CIP 2200B, from the Milacron Products Division. So it was a hand-me-down — with 64K core memory, 10 megabyte fixed disc, 10 megabyte removable disc and a 96 column card reader/punch.

I reported to the corporate boss of information: Pat Goggins. She was a wonderful iconoclast who ruffled many corporate functionaries. I have a soft spot in my soul for independent minds because they threaten the order of things. That is as it should be. Vegans pose a threat to the tyranny of the majority, and that is a very good thing.

vegan.humor

The Electronic Circuit Materials Division manufactured board bases for Ford automobiles, crappy scrap for Radio Shack and all manner of integrated circuit users. It was a fascinating place to work in the 1980’s At that time I was a single parent to my two children — my wife Jeanne died in 1983, and I wouldn’t meet Lisa until 1993. so I chucked my suit-and-tie collection into the closet and returned to German language and literatures, a world I had left in 1973. We moved closer to town in 1987. It was a hot and densely humid day. The cicadas sang, the car blew a radiator hose. We were at the shoulder of an interstate. Who populated that vehicle? Myself, my two kids, our cat and our bird.

Coding a program is a lot like learning a foreign language. Database records are words and relationships. Programs have syntax, grammar, logical thought — uttered or iterated.

Programming-816

One kind reader has expressed an interest in my use of pattern-matching techniques, a method called “regular expressions” — an invention of the 1960’s: it still supports many shells glommed around it — devices with modern application. The shoulders of those giants still support us. There is no such thing as a sky hook.

Meanwhile — in the “greater” world — folly tramples on dreams deferred. Do we stand at the rim of an abyss — perhaps of our own making? Dinosaurs peered skyward at the brink of yet another extinction. What other species unknown evolved over billions of years, to return all to primordial casseroles with a punch on the reset button. Five extinction events and counting. This planet is patient and resilient.  I like the way my friend Hariod expresses a gentle treasure — confronting imponderables with contentedness. Witness contentedness. Consider this photograph:

 

happy-indian-girls-in-kolkata-by-jorge-royan-argentina

Happy Easter 2017 🙂

Thanks for reading.

 

Those Effing German Endings

Useful foreign-language texts are good to find — I recommend library discard sales, where you can find great stuff for 50 cents or less. You can buy 300 of these for the price of a required text that you’re still paying for decades later. Actually, I spied a personal favorite: The World’s Writing Systems this way (see photograph below)

the-worlds-writing-systems
A 50-cent purchase

I lived an iconoclast’s dream for 20 years: a Saturday German class (10 to 12:30) to design a better way to learn German at the TriState German-American School: TSGAS. Our principal was happy if the students were happy. I have saved many lesson plans over the years — some of it archived from a Commodore 64. All four cases and all four genders — German handles plurals the same way as its three genders, it’s basically a fourth gender. And all by Thanksgiving holiday.

Had you elected the three-year sequence and its college textbook you wouldn’t learn about Genitive case until the third year. I don’t think you should wait that long. There are many misbegotten German textbooks out there: I found one that didn’t cover the second-person familiar until the second half of the book. How are you supposed to patch that in?

Paradigms are only useful if they are intuitive, and part of a wider heuristic. I am placing a link to an image of a very bad set of paradigms IMO rather than the actual image here because WordPress randomly selects images to accompany posts.

Learning German the same way that Germans learn English doesn’t work in the long run.  Actually it doesn’t work in the short run either, as I’ve learned from personal experience. Sometimes you just have to blast away the fossilized crud that accreted in your brain. Out damned crud!

Inflection is a big deal in highly inflected languages. Ignoring that big deal does not make the inflections go away. The problem only becomes larger if you do not tackle it.

inneren.schweine.hund

Translation: “Overcome the lazy dog inside you. What I learned from a marathon runner.”

The Saxons who invaded Britain brought all those inflections with them, but then the Vikings showed up and made short work of it. ’twas the birth of “The” and the need to use word order to indicate the function of each noun.

One of the first native German speakers my ears encountered in a Frankfurt of 1971 came from a five-year-old child. This Kindergärtners command of complex inflection was free and accurate. Was it some kind of trick? Were there paradigms on the refrigerator, or hanging from a mobile above his crib in 1968? The words flowed as intuitively much as that cat in the late Jack Ziegler (no relation) cartoon:

 

jack.ziegler.cat

German Gender

Gender is not extraneous.

Most aids for learning gender suggest patterns for masculine nouns first. Don’t do that, feminine nouns are easier to learn than masculine nouns. Here is your handout:

Screenshot 2017-04-04 20.55.54

IMO it is better than the suggestions you’ll find in standard German textbooks, i.e. masculine first. So I say turn it upside down:

  1. Is it a feminine noun?
  2. No, then is it a neuter noun?
  3. In all probability it’s a masculine noun.

Am I the only German teacher who has noticed this cart in front of that horse?

Here is an exercise for practicing effing German endings at the dinner table. Unroll die Serviette and discover that spoon, fork and knife are, respectively masculine, feminine and neuter nouns — right there on the table. I’ll leave the plural forms for die Hausaufgabe (homework).

Screenshot 2017-04-04 19.14.55

By this point I have probably lost all but two of my readers. Thanks, you two — I am grateful 🙂

Now comes case in a nutshell:

  • Nominative signals subject, the gender you’ve just learned how to learn. Think four genders. You are 25% of the way there.
  • Accusative case differs from nominative only with single masculine nouns — the letter ‘n’ is a single vertical line away from ‘r’. All the others are the same as the nominative: die, das, die. You are halfway there.
  • Dative case — you are halfway to dative by realizing that the letter ‘m’ appears only with dative case nouns (masculine and neuter). You are three-quarters to the finish line.
  • Genitive case — masculine and neuter again: the ‘s’ you already know from English.

So you are left with the odd stragglers that now stand out in that 16 cell paradigm — the ‘der’ and the ‘den’.

Screenshot 2017-04-04 19.18.28

A takeaway: heuristics are fun, paradigms need context and a deliberate design. Here are some reasons:

heuristic

More to follow if you two readers are interested 🙂

Older posts on German language

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Question Mercatorian Authority

 

In 1974 German cartographer Arno Peters developed a projection that ignited a firestorm by introducing a map that far more accurately portrays land-area distribution on planet Earth.

Listen Bill, firestorms hurt innocent people. It’s not nice to start fires; however, if we may say one good thing  about firestorms: they just might melt the snowflakes who start them.

 

do_not_question_authority_by_graffitiwatcher

All projections are approximations — you peel the surface of a sphere and press the peels onto a two-dimensional surface. Each attempt compromises something, but that god-awful Mercator (invented in the year 1569) compromises everything except convenience for sextant users in the year 2017.

The higher the latitude, the more profound the misrepresentation. Now what value could that have for propagandists? None I guess.

There must be something worthwhile in a technique that has survived 500 years of history, Bill. We think you have too much time on your hands. Watch some March Madness, Bill.

Yesterday my son turned me on to Cartographers for Social Equality — a cult classic from The West Wing episodes.

Bill, this sounds like something you could put on a business card to alert the innocent of the foolish views that seem to stick in your craw. Can we help you get the help you need?

WordPress uses the Mercator for data analytics by country.  Canadian and Russian visitors make me feel globally successful, simply by dint of all that map-shading.

I’m still waiting for visitors from Grønland (grøn is Danish for green). For no reason at all let me tell you that the German for green is grün.

Stay on task. Do your job. Sit down and shut up. Capiche?

What of those massive islands in Northern Canada? They are actually tiny islands. Take a look at a globe the next time you’re in a furniture store. Observe how the lines of longitude join at the North and South Poles —those antipodes are infinitely distant from the Equator. Literally. Only the places close to 0º depict areas accurately — the North Pole on a Mercator is as impossible to reach as the mythical elvish workshop.

mercator.brittanica

Geography glommed many generations ago into a mash-up called branches of social science. In effect a spattering of soundbites in an already watered-down curriculum.

Here are two of many remarkable cartograms by Benjamin Hennig that you can access on his website: viewsoftheworld.net. You can directly compare area and population density for the insight that this brings — if you’re into this kind of thing.

USelection2016Cartogram

We’re not ‘into’ things. We’re on to things — we’re on to you.
The map on the right resembles a vascular circulatory system, doesn’t it? Perspective matters perhaps.
EUreferendumCartogram
Read Hennig’s blog for more cartograms that portray other dynamics at play.

The Guardian published an annotated series for comparing map projections in 2009.

Why reinvent something that Mercator already settled 500 years ago? But you have to be different, don’t you?

Thanks for reading.

 

Sid Caesar — A Language for all Seasons

Sid Caesar died in 2014 at age 91. A pioneer in the gentler arts of subtle humor, Caesar approached his craft with an inquisitive spirit and intellectual curiosity — you can’t do that without patience and discipline. He listened to rhythms and song, he could mime anything animate or inanimate. Though able to transmit the theater of language, his only two tongues were English and Yiddish.

sid-caesar

All languages are indeed songs. Iambic pentameter is, quite simply, the cadence of spoken English. In my opinion a haiku never sounds right in English because the Japanese haiku does not transplant well in foreign soil.

From the Caesar, not the one known for “Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres”:

“I didn’t allow cue cards because, to my mind, when you’re acting with someone you listen when they speak, … Because then you can push off not just what they say but how they say it. You don’t just hang around waiting for your cue.”

Translation is a gentle art,  all translations are rough estimations. Something is always lost in the translation. In the hands of the demagogue language is a weapon to leverage propaganda. Agendas render translations that wish to mislead — always, or at least often enough.

Poetry resists translation intensely. But that is as it should be — poems are distilled language, translation muddies and soils.

quote-raffiniert-ist-der-herr-gott-aber-boshaft-ist-er-nicht-god-is-subtle-but-he-is-not-malicious-albert-einstein-90-85-72

By my own estimation an oft repeated remark by Albert Einstein is not a good enough translation of the German. A wise man once hadn’t said…

The German:  Raffiniert ist der Herrgott aber boshaft ist er nicht

The most common render: Subtle is the Lord, but malicious he is not.

A single word change: Mischievous is the Lord, but malicious he is not.

I think it’s good alliteration. Well, I may be outnumbered, but isn’t it an improvement on the more clumsy subtle/malicious. Perhaps I’m guilty of some degree of bias when taking sides with my own blog. With a nod to a rare public voice (hint: Habemus papam — “who am I to judge.”)
2-saints-from-palestine
Movements to excommunicate — or at least exile — Pope Francis are loud, vociferous and growing with brute fervor.
Listening patiently is among the lost arts. The sentient fellow-being in your presence deserves your attention — it’s that breathtakingly short moment when they may reach and teach you. Carpe diem!
Okie dokie, let’s consider another quote from Mr. Caesar:
The remote control changed our lives, … The remote control took over the timing of the world. That’s why you have road rage. You have people who have no patience, because you got immediate gratification. You got click, click, click, click. If it doesn’t explode within three seconds, click click, click.
~ Sid Caesar (from Successories)
When it comes time for you to speak, do not use your words as weapons but as tools for removing barriers, widening perspectives and sharing a planet where homo sapiens is the sole responsible specie threatening to drop another extinction event on all and each.
 Be also wary of weaponized symbols and icons, my impertinent opinion of course.
Thanks for reading.

We’re Just Out Of Waldorfs

Some decades ago, in another millennium, I learned how to teach German language at the Cincinnati Waldorf School — by learning to flow smoothly.

waldorf-painting-turtle

Waldorf pedagogic method follows the thought and moment of Rudolf Steiner.

We’re still here, Bill. And we have a question. Is there a difference between pedagogic and pedantic? By the bye, we are bored.

Yes, there is a difference. My apologies for the tedium that now threatens tedia.

Each student had this blank book and a set of block crayons.

stockmar-beeswax-crayons-16-blocks

A fine point between  a pointed crayon and a block crayon. Boundaries are the literal point of a more muffling model. Art, dance, theater and connection to the Earth. Veganism was the norm, as it should be.

You have a gift for wandering off task. Do you know that?

The German for poison is das Gift. Snow White (Schneewittchen)  bit into a gift from a person of some political moment. The gift was Gift. On a side note — where I prefer to spend my time — you can frequent souvenir shops all over the place called: Das Gift Haus. Caveat emptor!

Bilingual puns are the death of wit, an affront.

Some few years ago, between 1989 and 2013, I enjoyed another singular privilege: teaching at the TriState German-American School. It’s a local institution that arose from a large number of emigrees to Cincinnati, arriving from German-speaking countries.

Pedantry alert. Pedantry alert.

The TGAS principal did not impose a curriculum on my class “Getting Around in German.” If the students were happy she was happy. My students were happy. This happy happenstance allowed me room (did you know that the name Zimmerman arises from the German ‘Room Man’ for carpenter. A Ziegler lays tile. The first mayor of Cincinnati was David Ziegler.

david-ziegler

My green italic critics shift nervously on respective chairs.

You stray like a thief in the night, Herr Ziegler. These Pults are a horror.

God save us from the prison that the Prussian system of student control imposes. Just my 7 1/2 cents.

From Fawlty Towers: “I want a Waldorf Salad.” Fawlty: “I think we’re just out of Waldorfs.”

fawlty-out-of-waldorfs

It’s quite a comfort to holiday at the Fawlty Towers. Let’s listen in on a few fellow guests recently arrived from Deutschland.

“We didn’t start it. Yes you did, you invaded Poland.”

But to return to something completely different, I developed a number of techniques in my Saturday German class that offered a more gentle way in my lesson un-plan. I introduced concrete objects without recourse to the succor of English.

Point at the sun, define a circle with your fingertips. The sun is big. She is yellow. She is big, round, yellow and hot. How can you remember that something is round — leave the round part “o” out, and so rund.

Two favorite verses did I glean from Waldorf and refresh in my class:

Hutsch He! Hutsch He! Der Ackermann sät.

The classroom floor became a plot of land to sow in Spring. In Autumn (Herbst/harvest) that same floor became a field of wheat that flowed with the wind and became ready for harvest.

Hutsch He! Hutsch He! Der Ackermann mäht. 

Use the same arm movement used for sowing the seeds, but then suggest a scythe that cuts the grain and readies it for baking bread.

sowing

Spring to Fall   —sät to mäht.

Thanks for reading.