?

Log in

Perpetual tourist

> recent entries
> calendar
> friends
> Inscrutable Ted
> profile
> previous 20 entries

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016
2:09 am - Language geekery
I downloaded Duolingo for my phone. It's the free app that every seems to be using for language learning these days. It's pretty great.

Remember how I was musing about learning Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, or Zulu? It turns out only one of those languages is available on Duolingo, so that made the decision easy: I'm learning Russian.

I was kinda leaning toward Zulu after learning that Black Panther in the new Marvel movies speaks Xhosa, which is mutually intelligible with Zulu. But I expect it'll be hard to find learning resources for Zulu and/or Xhosa, even though they are they two most common first languages in South Africa, together accounting for 40% of the population. Too bad. I was looking forward to learning how to do the click sounds.

By the way, it seems strange to me that Zulu and Xhosa are even considered distinct languages despite being mutually intelligible. I've heard it said that a language is a dialect with an army and a navy (explaining why Serbian and Croatian are considered different languages, or Danish/Norwegian, or Hindi/Urdu), but the Zulu and Xhosa peoples share an army and navy, don't they?

Anyway. So, Russian is fun so far. I thought the alphabet might take a bit of learning, but I soon realized it's almost identical with the classical Greek alphabet I know from mathematics. In fact, I haven't bothered to learn the Russian names of the letters. I keep calling them Pi, Rho, Sigma etc.

There are a few differences. For one, there are two letters corresponding to the Greek Beta, one representing a B sound and one representing a V sound. (I call them Beta and Veta.) Similarly, there are a couple extra letters that are cognate with Sigma (I call them Shigma and Shchigma), and a couple that are cognate with the rare Greek letter San (which isn't used in mathematics because it fell out of use before classical times).

Also, the Russian system of hard/soft vowels means that every Greek-looking vowel (alpha, epsilon, iota, omicron, upsilon) has a corresponding non-Greek-origin vowel that I call "soft alpha", "soft epsilon", etc.

The only really weird part of the alphabet is the letter Ж, which doesn't correspond to any Greek or Latin letter. But even weirder is Ж's position in the alphabet. Whereas all the other non-Greek-origin letters were added to the end of the alphabet, Ж was inserted after epsilon, near the start of the alphabet. What's it doing there? We might never know.

Ancient Greek used to have a letter after epsilon called digamma, but Ж doesn't appear to be related to it. (Nevertheless, I'm going to call Ж digamma.)

The Wikipedia page for Ж notes that it can be used as the logo for the '90s hip hop band Kris Kross. Goddamn there's some crap on Wikipedia.

(2 comments | comment on this)

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016
5:40 am - Belgium is under attack
I woke up early today, about 4am, to news of terrorist bombings in Brussels. (I went to sleep about 8:30pm last night. I was really tired all day. I think my body must be fighting off an infection. It works out well, though, because I have to be at work at 9am sharp for a thing, and it's at a different location from usual, so I'll need time to find it. So being up early is good. Anyway.)

Looking around social media, there seem to be two theories about the motive for the attack. Most are guessing that it's a retaliation for the arrest of a terrorist leader in Belgium a few days ago. But other people are saying that an attack like this would take months to plan, so that's unlikely.

Some people are noting that Brussels is a hub for terrorist operations, and it doesn't make much logistical sense to attack your own hub. Those people are saying that this is more likely to be a desperate last-ditch attack by a Belgium-based terrorist cell who are close to being defeated. I think that makes more sense, and I hope it's true.

I'm not looking forward to what this does for the discourse in the United States. Trump will certainly be talking about this. I'm just thankful that most Americans are asleep right now so they aren't watching the events in Brussels unfold live.

Thoughts and prayers for all the dead and injured in Brussels. How horrid.

(comment on this)

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
5:33 pm
I know everyone says this, but I mean it: If Trump wins I'm moving to Canada.

(Well, back to Canada.)

(comment on this)

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015
4:08 am - Never forget
http://aretha.ytmnd.com/

(comment on this)

Sunday, November 8th, 2015
4:16 am
Even though I've been a vegetarian since I was 17, I've usually had leather belts and work shoes, and my motorcycle jacket (back when I had a motorcycle -- did I mention I sold my motorcycle last year? *sniff*) was also leather. But I recently decided to try doing without leather clothing.

I did some cursory research, and since my next work place is business casual, I thought I could get away with some smart-looking Polo Ralph Lauren sneakers like this:



I didn't notice until I got into the shop today that almost all of the shoes have unnecessary leather decorative accents somewhere. I probably should have said "Well, at least it's an improvement" and got them anyway, but I was so annoyed. I ended up getting some all-black Vans, and now I'm worried these are way too casual for my new job. (Welcome to my Livejournal, which apparently exists so I can express buyer's remorse.)

(comment on this)

Friday, November 6th, 2015
4:35 pm
I was in a store recently and I saw that Old Spice now has a fragrace called 'Bearglove'. The artwork on the package is over the top, with bears and twigs, and I spent a good couple minutes giggling about it. Remember folks: No bearglove, no bearlove.

Even though Old Spice is a brand I'd normally never buy (despite their attempts to rebrand themselves from something your cheap grandfather would buy to something hipsters would buy ironically), I decided to get Bearglove-scented soap and deordorant.

I now regret that. This stuff smells horrible.

(2 comments | comment on this)

Saturday, September 27th, 2014
4:51 am - I'm back.
I've decided to start using LiveJournal again.

Is anyone still here?

(8 comments | comment on this)

Friday, October 7th, 2011
8:18 am
Hi LiveJournal,

I realise hardly anyone reads LiveJournal anymore, and I don't think Donny and I even had many mutual friends, but I have to do what I can to get the word out...

nekidwhiteboy is dead. His funeral is today at 2:30pm at Laurel Lands Funeral Home, 6000S RL Thornton, Dallas. His family don't know how to contact his friends, and they couldn't find his cell phone, so they want people to spread the word.

I realise this is late notice for anyone not in the Dallas area, but it's not too late to send condolences.

(2 comments | comment on this)

Sunday, July 25th, 2010
11:46 am - Greeting friends
If you're female, greeting friends is easy. You give them a hug.

If you're male, it's a little trickier. If you're a gay man, it's yet trickier. If you're an anglophone living in Quebec, it's yet trickier.

As a gay male anglophone living in quebec, this is what my decision tree for greeting a friend looked like:

if (friend.is_female()) {
  hug();
} else if (friend.is_french_canadian()) {
  kiss_twice_on_cheeks();
} else if (friend.is_gay()) {
  hug();
} else if (friend.have_not_seen_in_long_time()) {
  hug();
} else {
  handshake();
}


This isn't even including those punches and weird handshakes that men sometimes give each other. Touching fists ("fist-punching") seems to be big now, but I stay away from them since they seem to be highly age-specific and location-specific. Gently punching a man's arm or shoulder seems to always be popular, but I'm still not clear on the etiquette.

If a straight man could publish a decision tree like this, that would help.

(2 comments | comment on this)

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010
1:02 am - Memeage
I'd say this is pretty accurate.

Your rainbow is shaded indigo.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What is says about you: You are a proud person. You appreciate cities, technology, and other great things people have created. Friends count on you for being honest and insightful.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.

(comment on this)

Friday, August 28th, 2009
12:22 am
Today's xkcd wins for the mouseover text.

http://xkcd.com/

(comment on this)

Friday, August 21st, 2009
1:50 am
So, I guess this is what Al Gore warned us about.

Tornados hit Toronto tonight, which is pretty crazy since we don't usually get tornados here. There are reports that one man is dead.

Actually, the tornados didn't hit Toronto proper. They hit the suburbs immediately surrounding Toronto (the "Greater Toronto Area"). But the storms we got here were still unlike any I've seen. I was on my way to my friends' place around 7pm when I saw giant green clouds rapidly moving in and eating up the western sky. I got into their apartment building just before the storm hit us. I said to them, "I don't know if you've seen outside lately, but it looks like the End of Days is coming on the horizon."

Still, as far as crazy weather goes, this isn't as crazy as the fact that it frickin' snowed in Vietnam last year.

(1 comment | comment on this)

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
8:20 pm
So, Health Canada have announced that they're now only going to release swine flu statistics once a week instead of daily. (Now how will I get my daily dose of anxiety?)

For those who are wondering, the incidence of swine flu in Canada is now high enough that we're having deaths daily. The death tally is currently 30. A week ago it was 16.

The death rate appears to be about 0.4% at the moment, which doesn't seem too alarming. However, for every person who dies, there's another 10 who are being kept alive by respirators. The fear is that we're eventually going to run out of respirators, and then the death rate could shoot up.

The good news is that they say a vaccine will be ready by September or October. So hopefully the vaccine will become available before winter hits.

In the meantime, avoid crowds, and don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without first disinfecting your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer.

(comment on this)

Thursday, June 25th, 2009
10:13 pm
I feel weird because everyone around me seems upset about the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, and I'm... not.

It's not that I don't care about celebrity deaths. It's just that these two celebrities didn't mean much to me personally.

Farrah Fawcett was a little before my time, and for whatever reason, it seems I never discovered her stuff or learnt much about her signficance. She seems like a nice person. I just didn't really know her.

I'm aware of Michael Jackson, of course, and I remember that Thriller was the only album my mother owned on vinyl. But I grew up during the later part of his career. I only cared for a few of his songs ("Smooth Criminal" is the only one I think was brilliant), and that was more than outweighed by what a dick I thought he was. (Apart from his well-publicised weirdness, he also had a penchant for aligning himself with anti-Semetic groups.)

The strange thing is that I really did develop an interest in 80s music later, but Michael Jackson was so over-exposed that I never thought to look into his stuff. Maybe I would have like him more if I had.

I still recognise "Don't stop 'til you get enough" as a disco classic, though.

(2 comments | comment on this)

Thursday, June 4th, 2009
3:15 pm - The state of Canadian bilingualism.
Yesterday, I bought a can of wasabi peas. In English, they were labelled as being "Cholesterol free".

In French, they were labelled "Le cholestérol libère".

(2 comments | comment on this)

Sunday, May 24th, 2009
10:32 pm - Ingenious.
My life will never be the same, now that I've discovered the Wearable Towel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjdyjL0dbG8

(2 comments | comment on this)

Friday, May 8th, 2009
8:45 am - Deadpool is getting his own X-Men spin-off movie!
And I haven't seen X-Men Origins: Wolverine yet, so don't tell me how bad Ryan Renold's portrayal of him was.



(comment on this)

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009
10:59 am
I've been keeping an eye on the number of confirmed swine flu cases in Canada to try to get a sense of whether this thing is going to grow exponentially or not. It's hard right now because the numbers are so small, and there's great variation in the amount of testing being done.

On Monday, the number of cases was reported as 6. On Tuesday, it was 13. Wednesday was 19. Thursday was 34. Friday was 51.

The next couple of days will be very telling.

Update: And today the count is 80 85. It looks like it's increasing by about 70% per day. That's exponential, folks.

If any one wants me, I'll be stocking up on water and non-perishable food.

(2 comments | comment on this)

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
9:50 pm
The World Health Organisation has raised the pandemic alert for swine flu to Phase 5. There are only 6 phases. Phase 6 means that it's a pandemic.

I don't want to panic anybody, because this isn't smallpox. It's not airborne, and it's not mysterious, and it's not particularly lethal. It's the flu, and we know a lot about the flu, and we know how to make vaccinations for the flu, and we have drugs that interfere with the spread of the flu.

But still. It never hurts to have basic preparations for an emergency. Everyone should have 72 hours worth of food and clean water, as well as batteries, a battery-powered radio, one month's worth of any medications, and a flashlight (electric torch).

I'm not suggesting that people will die en masse. But it's reasonable to expect that you may be stuck at home due to fuel shortages, or simply because you want to avoid other people. Or maybe the local shops will be closed, making it hard to get food (just like what happened during the big blackout a few years back). And even just a few deaths are enough to cause a panic (and panic itself can be dangerous).

In the event of an emergency, your government will be doing all it can to help you. But governments are big, clumsy, and slow. It will take them a while to get to you. (Remember the U.S. government response to Katrina?) That's why you need 72 hours worth of food and water.

Just get a case of bottled water and box of energy bars and store them in the basement, next to your batteries, flashlight, and radio. They can live there forever, and you'll have peace of mind.

(2 comments | comment on this)

Thursday, April 9th, 2009
12:54 am
You know what's a fun English suffix? '-ster'.

In old English, it referred to occupations performed by women. A woman who weaved was a webster. A woman who brewed was a brewster. A woman who baked was a baxter (bakster). A woman who sang was a songster. A woman who sewed was a seamster. A woman who spun was a spinster.

Over time, the suffix lost its meaning and the derived terms became gender-neutral. Webster, Brewster, and Baxter became masculine enough to survive as surnames. Songster and Seamster gained the additional feminine suffix '-ess' to become Songstress and Seamstress.

And Spinster, somehow, came to mean an old, unmarried woman. The remarkable thing to me is that it managed to remain gender-specific.

In other news, LJ is dying. Three of my friends just posted about defecting to Twitter.

(7 comments | comment on this)

> previous 20 entries
> top of page
LiveJournal.com