Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Poem about Caring for Others


Ana and Clio, and sometimes Matt and Julio, volunteer regularly at the local community center and soup kitchen. On Ana's planet, Thomo, such matters are effectively dealt with by family groups, the clans, and she finds it hard to understand how so many of us are willing to leave such important services to other people.

The poem "People Who Take Care," by Nancy Henry, made her weep. A fair amount of her philanthropic funds are devoted to fostering community organization.

She and Matt have had many conversations about the way so many people on Earth put money before everything else. Matt couldn't be optimistic about the effects of her efforts. He showed her a quotation in the Oxford English Dictionary from 1688: "Money will make the pot boyl though the Devil Piss in the Fyre." Clearly, it isn't a new problem.

Lots more in the right column under the photo of the LOVE sculpture.
Meet Ana Darcy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Language Quiz Answers


Once again, we consulted a language expert for our replies to Ana's questions.

1. As for ginger/finger/singer, English spellling versus pronunciation is an old, old problem. It started about the time printing did, in the late 1400s. Printing tended to fix the spelling and pronunciation of the time, even though the spoken language has been changing ever since. For the most part, spelling changes have lagged behind, because they've been printed. Thus, for example, we need the "silent e" simply to signal the difference in the vowels in words like "sit" and "site," or "bat" and "bate." That's all the "silent e" does--denote a different preceding vowel.

With "ginger," "finger," and "singer," we don't have enough symbols in the written language to properly render the way the words are said. The International Phonetic Alphabet has the symbols, but few people know those. So we simply have to learn to pronounce the words correctly despite their spelling.

2. Ajo is "garlic." Oja is "leaf." Ojo is "eye."

3. English has more than ten vowels. The number depends on the dialect of English.

4. The English verb has two tenses. That's correct: two.

Any questions? Comments?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Recipe: Potato Pizza


In Distant Cousin: Regeneration, Ana's friend and bodyguard, Rob Coombs, discovers that a pizza made with no tomato sauce and slices of potato can be a wonderful thing. If you haven't tried one, it's easy and delicious.

It's always best to make your own pizza dough, and to let it rise. Coat it with a little olive oil, add thin slices of raw potato, fresh mozarella, garlic, and sprigs of fresh rosemary. Bake!

Language Quiz Time!


Ana, being a non-native English speaker and Spanish speaker, as well as a few others, naturally notices odd things that we natives might not see.

1. For example, she notes the spelling of these three words is very similar, yet the pronunciations are different. Why is this, she asks?

ginger finger singer


2. Here are several Spanish words that gave her trouble for a while. Can anyone match them up with their meaning?

ojo garlic

ajo leaf

oja eye


3. How many vowel sounds does English have?

5

6

7

8

more than 10


4. How many tenses does the English verb have?

2

5

7

more than 7

Answers HERE.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Two More Love Poems


If you know anything about Ana you know she likes love poems. Here are two sweet ones whose images appealed to her, the one partly because of late-night air travel, and the other, well, it just appealed to her and let's leave it at that. It can be said, however, that she does love the music of Boccherini.

"Night Flight," by George Bilgere

"Quietly," by Kenneth Rexroth


Many more, in the right column under the LOVE sculpture!

Now, meet Ana Darcy!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Korean Carne Al Pastor?


Carne al pastor is a Mexican dish of shredded bits of marinated pork and beef, grilled, on a fresh tortilla with diced onions, shredded cilantro, and salsa as an added option. (A good choice for the salsa may be found here.) It is a wonderful dish.

Ana Darcy Mendez cleverly modified this recipe in Distant Cousin: Regeneration. Creative cooks might wish to experiment with her idea.

She used only shredded pork, and caramelized it. That is, not to get too specific, the pork is sauteed with a little salt, a little sugar, and a little butter until a sauce is formed and the bits of meat become browned and take on a nutty flavor. The meat is spooned into a fresh tortilla (flour or corn--your choice), and a second sauce is added on top, made of toasted, crushed sesame seeds and chopped cilantro leaves, mixed with a little key lime juice. As near as we can tell, this is apparently an item of Korean cuisine which she has adapted into the New Mexican style.

We welcome pictures and accounts of anyone's results!

MORE exotic recipe ideas in the right column under the photo of cranberry-apple pie, including:





Monday, December 7, 2009

Whoa! Good news? Bad news?


This just in! We have been contacted by readers of Distant Cousin: Regeneration, with their reactions. They all loved it, but one reader said the parts dealing with (spoilers omitted) gave him nightmares. Another said she gasped out loud when she got to the part where Ana (spoiler omitted). She was reading in a doctor's waiting room at the time and hoped the people around her realized she was merely enjoying a good story. A third said the scenes at the (spoiler omitted) and the (spoiler omitted) actually made her weep. She was riding the subway at that point, and, like the previous reader, hoped those nearby would understand it was because of a book.

Full disclosure: the first reader grew up in El Paso. Once you've read Distant Cousin: Regeneration, you'll understand.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Another Favorite Poem: "Lute Music," by Kenneth Rexroth


Here's another poem Ana likes. For those interested in analyzing her tastes, you can detect that music is one element: lute music is the inspiration for this one. Ana loves the rich, stringy sound of the lute, which resembles an instrument on her native Thomo. (The Distant Cousin theme song is played on a theorbo, a bass lute with 18 strings, and you can easily hear the spectrum-wide resonance of the instrument on this clip, as well as the fugal nature of the piece, another thing she loves about our music.) Another element, not surprising given her history, is astronomy, and that is also present in "Lute Music." Finally, there is love, central in the poem in an intimate, physical sense. Readers of the series will know that love is central to Ana, too.

Meet Ana, the extraterrestrial who has favorite recipes and art as well as music!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ana's Questions (Below) Answered


We found a linguist to answer Ana's first question and a professor of mathematics to answer the second. Here's what they had to say. First, the linguist:

1. "Bring" and especially "take" have hundreds of meanings, but as used in the case Ms. Mendez mentions, they mean the same thing.

Well, that was simple! Now, for the math:

2. Both situations are figured correctly: if there are 23 people selected at random in a group, the odds are even that two will share the same birthday. The explanation is rather complicated, and the Wikipedia article you cited does a decent job of it.

In the second situation, adding a 24th person to a group with no matches, the odds are indeed about 14 to 1 that there will not be a match.

There is no problem with Ms. Mendez's logic. The difficulty is in realizing that we are talking about two different problems! In the first group, the people are gathered at random--we do not know what their birthdates are. In the second group, we do know--there are NO matches. That is a different problem! That changes everything!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Serval Kitties Ten Weeks Old!



We're in luck! Julie, of JuliesJungle, sent recent pictures of her two remaining serval kitties at ten weeks old. The earlier ones (which you can find in the handbook, at the right under "Photographs") were at two and three weeks. They're sweet, lovely pets, and I hope Ana doesn't see them and get carried away and add one to her menagerie.

There was a news item in Dallas (Texas) recently about a "wild cat" that was "on the loose" in a neighborhood. It was a serval, rather elderly, and with a health problem or two. Luckily, it was found and returned to the owner with no damage, but can't you just imagine the consternation on the part of unknowing people at seeing this decidedly non-typical kitty wandering around? Yet they're gentle and sweet--and it's such good news that it was not harmed.

By the way, the two exotic cats in the right column, third and fourth from the bottom, appear in Distant Cousin: Regeneration and Distant Cousin: Reincarnation, respectively. And there are many, many more cat pictures in the column on the right under the photo of the blue-eyed kitty.

Thanks again, Julie!

Poem: Relativity & Cats?


Ana is well known as a cat lover, and she also knows a little about traveling at near the speed of light.

Now she's found a poem which involves both, believe it or not.

It's easy to see why it should appeal to her. She loves the wackiness of explaining anything to a cat, and especially explaining relativity. After all, a cat? mice? at the speed of light? gravity? on a train?

Well, why not?

Poem: "Explaining Relativity to the Cat" by Jennifer Gresham

Also: Learning Peace from a Cat, and many more poems about cats and other things in the column on the right, under the photo of the blue-eyed kitty.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Serval Kitten Update



Thanks again to Julie of JuliesJungle for the terrific pictures! (Click to enlarge.) For pictures of these handsome fellows at two and three weeks of age, see the Handbook to the right under "Photographs," under the photo of the blue-eyed kitty.

The experts are preparing answers for Ana's questions, below. Look for those here in a day or two.