Sunday Song: Gangnam Style

After today, I may have no readership. This post contains content that may be offensive to all viewers. There will be the “Oh gawd that song is horrible and now it’s stuck in my head!” crowd. There will be those who found elements of the video unforgivable, especially those with a sense of taste or color coordination. There will be those who roll their eyes and say, “Dana, are you really that far behind on pop culture?” to which I will have to admit, “Yes,” which will then cause those readers to abandon me as hopeless.

So there are huge potential losses, but I’m going to post this anyway. Because, and I hate to admit this, I actually do like the song and think the video’s a scream. And because – but we’ll get to that in a moment.

First, watch this video, and please try to remember that you once loved me, or at least liked me in a vague sort of way.

So that’s what Starspider foisted on me on Friday. Possibly a horrible thing to do to a sick woman. And then there was trying to explain this song to someone who was already muddled on cold medicine. I’ve gone back and read the Wikipedia entry, and it turns out she did an excellent job pounding certain concepts through that cotton wool-stuffed brain of mine.

“Gangnam Style” is a Korean neologism that refers to a lifestyle associated with the Gangnam district of Seoul, where people are trendy, hip and exude a certain supposed “class”. The term was listed in Time’s weekly vocabulary list as a manner associated with lavish lifestyles in Seoul’s Gangnam district. Psy likened the Gangnam District to Beverly Hills, California, and said in an interview that he intended a twisted sense of humor by claiming himself to be “Gangnam Style” when everything about the song, dance, looks, and the music video is far from being such a high class. In another interview with CNN, Psy added that:

“People who are actually from Gangnam never proclaim that they are – it’s only the posers and wannabes that put on these airs and say that they are “Gangnam Style” – so this song is actually poking fun at those kinds of people who are trying so hard to be something that they’re not.”

The song talks about “the perfect girlfriend who knows when to be refined and when to get wild.” The song assists in defining this by the singer exclaiming “Ehhhhh Sexy Lady!” The song’s refrain “오빤 강남 스타일 (Oppan Gangnam style)” has been translated as “I live a Gangnam style”, with Psy referring to himself; “Oppa” is a Korean expression used by females to refer to an older male friend or older brother.

And why have I foisted this bit of Korean pop culture on you? For the same reason Starspider did it to me: so that you could truly appreciate this epic parody.

Okay? Even if you hate the song, you have to respect this. Even if you aren’t a Star Trek fan, you surely must admire the dedication required to translate a Korean pop song into Klingon, and make the costumes (although I suspect several of them had their costumes already. Look, I belonged to a Star Trek fan club once. I know how we are).

Nothing will ever beat that. Well, I say never, but something might, it’s just that they’ve got a hell of a hill to climb. Still, the fact someone sat down and caused a game to do this makes a nice runner-up. Although it does get upsetting in some places…

There. I’ve inflicted that song on you three times now, and I’m only slightly sorry. I hope you find it in your hearts to forgive me, someday. Or, if you found these wildly hilarious and inflicted them upon friends and family, that you do not end up abandoned and alone. Just remind your loved ones that time heals most wounds, and will probably, eventually, and with appropriate therapy, heal these.

O, Computer Geeks, May I Request Your Wisdom?

I’m emerging from my sickbed – well, sickchair – for a moment to request a favor from the computer geeks in the audience. Does anyone know of a simple and preferably free way to set up your television as a dual monitor? I’ve got me HDMI cable, and I’m happily playing content through the PC, but I’d like to have video playing on the teevee whilst still being able to work on the machine. Right now, what I see on the PC screen is what I see on the teevee. This makes working whilst streaming movies difficult.

I’m sure this is simple, but I’m rather muddled at the moment and don’t trust myself not to fuck it up without expert guidance. Thanks in advance!

In other news, I’ve taken this unexpected absence to discover the joys of nasal spray and contemplate the invention of a cuisine based on texture and sensation rather than taste. It’s been very exciting. Wish you were here! You would be greatly amused.

I think I just managed to sort-of smell an English muffin, and I might have detected one out of the forty or so spices in the chili soup, so I’m off for what promises to be a somewhat lively lunch. I’ll be back soon with actual, y’know, content. Just you wait ’til you see what I’ve got for the Sunday Song. You’ll never be the same again…

Ducklings for My Nurses

I’ve acquired strep throat. I could have ended up with the virus that’s going around instead, but no: my immune system got overstressed, and it chose strep. Which is fine with me – easy to survive with antibiotics, as long as you minimize swallowing for the first 24 hours. Bed rest is also lovely, but here’s the thing about the company I work for: you can only get Family and Medical Act leave if you’re out for three days. If you don’t need to be out for three days, you don’t get excused under FMLA. You just rack up the attendance points until you risk getting fired. In the meantime, your chances of promotion or transfer are destroyed, because you’ve ended up on a written warning for the crime of being sick too many times. This is how American companies work. And keep in mind, this is a company with a rather generous attendance policy compared to some.

So you come in sick, sit your highly-contagious self down, and suffer.

Our company has one thing many other companies don’t: an on-site medical clinic. So I’ve got me antibiotics. (And yes, I know I said I don’t care if I get fired, but getting fired for being absent due to illness isn’t part of the plan. I don’t care if I get fired as long as they’re firing me for telling them to fix their shit and protesting mandatory overtime. I don’t care to give them any other cause. That’s why my miserable ass was planted at my desk today.) We also have an on-site cafe that sells things like frozen fruit puree. I’m one of the lucky ones: my writing skills mean I can always find a supervisor to give me a research/writing project, which means off-phone time, which means not having to try to talk while it feels like gnomes are mining my tonsils. Antibiotics, frozen stuff, projects: set.

And I have two wonderful coworkers who do not like to see people suffer. When Amanda came by and saw me wincing every time I had to swallow, she decided she must fill me up with tea. Starspider then brought out her collection. This woman takes her tea very, very seriously, so Amanda had plenty to work with. And while I didn’t want them fussing, it’s pretty much impossible to turn down strawberry-flavored tea with honey that smells like unicorns, rainbows and relief.

So there I was, moments later, sipping soothing tea prepared for me by two wonderful women. And I thought, “I need to do something to thank them. Can’t hug them – that’s reserved for enemies just now, at least during the contagious phase. So what can I do?”

And it came to me: baby duckies! I can make them a baby duckie video.

So I did.

How cute are they? I had quite the little adventure with them this spring. There were about four billion babies out, and some of them hadn’t quite figured out what humans were for yet. One particular group of ducklings were quite curious, and mama didn’t seem to mind, so I crouched down to say hello.

The curious trio.

I held out a hand by way of saying hello, and they had a moment of confusion. One of them, the one on the left, was quite vocal about it.

Temptation

You may notice the calculating look on the middle one’s face. Apparently, someone at some point in its young life had been handing out bread, and it now associated hands with yum. It came over for a closer look.

Testing

Finding no bread, it decided to try the other flat, white thing in front of it.

Tasting.

Yepper. That’s a baby duckie biting my fingers. It was adorable as hell. Poor little thing was mightily surprised when I turned out to be inedible. I think its mom was amused.

I hope this goes some small way towards making my nurses grin in delight. And hopefully a few of you grinned as well. As for my sick self, I’m going to go supplement the antibiotics with chocolate gelato and the world’s worst dance movie*, and see if I can’t beat this thing quickly. Wouldn’t do to waste that head start Amanda and Caeli gave me, amirite?

 

* I exaggerate. The plot is teh suck and the writing clanks like a sabotaged steam engine, but the dancing’s good, the music’s catchy, and there are some lovely whimsical bits. Also, it was free. It’s fun to have on in the background whilst making videos of baby duckies for some of the most caring people I know.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton: “Truth is the Only Safe Ground to Stand Upon”

I’ve been in search of strong 19th century female freethinkers, and they don’t get much stronger than this. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was fearless. When it came to women’s rights, she wanted it all. Forget those cautious folk wanting to shuffle carefully towards woman suffrage, and maybe after that, if it wouldn’t upset folks too much, maybe then they could work on another right or two for women. Stanton wasn’t having any of that. Hells to the no.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1848. Image courtesy Wikipedia, cropped by moi.

And schisms? She caused ‘em. Let the cautious folk tiptoe timidly: she’d be over here, marching like thunder. She and her allies wanted their woman suffrage plus.

Religion, she thought, was one of the things holding women back. So she fought it. She published The Woman’s Bible, which took sexism in the Bible head-on, causing no end to consternation amongst those who were terrified to set a foot wrong with religion. And Stanton said,

Others say it is not politic to rouse religious opposition.

This much-lauded policy is but another word for cowardice. How can woman’s position be changed from that of a subordinate to an equal, without opposition, without the broadest discussion of all the questions involved in her present degradation? For so far-reaching and momentous a reform as her complete independence, an entire revolution in all existing institutions is inevitable.

Let us remember that all reforms are interdependent, and that whatever is done to establish one principle on a solid basis, strengthens all. Reformers who are always compromising, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.

***

Again there are some who write us that our work is a useless expenditure of force over a book that has lost its hold on the human mind. Most intelligent women, they say, regard it simply as the history of a rude people in a barbarous age, and have no more reverence for the Scriptures than any other work. So long as tens of thousands of Bibles are printed every year, and circulated over the whole habitable globe, and the masses in all English-speaking nations revere it as the word of God, it is vain to belittle its influence.

There’s something about a little white-haired old lady rolling up her sleeves and taking on organized religion, aiming a knockout blow straight at its holy book.

In England, suffragist Helen Bright Clark mentioned that Stanton might just have shocked some of those in that staid British audience, to which Stanton replied, “Well, if we who do see the absurdities of the old superstitions never unveil them to others, how is the world to make any progress in the theologies? I am in the sunset of life, and I feel it to be my special mission to tell people what they are not prepared to hear …”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, circa 1880. Image courtesy Wikipedia.

She always did do that, Elizabeth Cady Stanton did, and it got her written out of history for a while, because people are afraid of women who are too firebrandy. But a less straitlaced and pious age remembered her at last, and her work never had died. She was one of those who was willing to take it so far, and eventually the Western nations mostly caught up to her, even passed her at a few points (she was never a fan of abortion, for instance).

When we look at her, this sweet, white-haired old lady who gave both her moderate occasional allies and her opponents gray hairs, we should remember: she was never afraid to ask for more, and she never stopped telling people what they weren’t prepared to hear. I think she knew that if someone didn’t tell them, they never would be prepared to hear, and they needed to.

She wasn’t trying to win popularity contests. She was trying to force a hostile world to give women their rights. She never forgot that. Every movement needs its peacemakers, but it also needs its warriors: she was that warrior, and fierce, and fantastic.

Let’s never forget her again. And I challenge you, in her memory: go out, stand on the safe ground of truth, and tell someone what they’re not prepared to hear.

Mystery Flora: Primroses or Just Roses?

There’s a kind of rose I’ve got used to calling a primrose, and which some of you lot swear are not, so I figured that since all you had to go by was the buds, I’d best post some blooms. Then you can duke it out amongst each other, and I’ll know whether I’m on a primrose path or not.

For bonus points, advise the clueless amongst us how to tell the difference between primroses and just roses.

Mystery Flower I

This one was taken on May 31st, 2012 along the trail between the North Creek Ballfields and the wetlands. Banks of them, there, filling the air with a fine, heady scent.

Mystery Flower II

A white version, shot on June 24th up where the North Creek greenbelt mostly ends.

Mystery Flower III

A new outburst of rosy beauty, photographed near the complex on September 19th.

So there’s those. They smell like roses, but I always associate actual roses with the cultivars such as these beauties:

Roses from the International Test Rose Garden, Portland, OR. June 2010.

(Did those make your eyes pop? They make mine pop. I can’t remember the variety, but I like to think of these as flamenco dancers. They’ve just got that Spanish flair to them somehow.)

Anyway, sure I’ve gone wrong somewhere. You can set me straight, and then we can all know whether we’re stopping to smell primroses or just roses or something else that is not a roses except by common name.

UFD: Raptor Ready

Yes, yes, I said I was doing a reader submission next. I lied. I’m dying to know what this fellow is.

Sunday was sunny and warm, so I hiked my work over to one of our picnic tables. Those are usually full of families having birthday parties, but this week, the whole strip was deserted. Sun and solitude? Combo not to be missed.

So there I was, beavering away whilst basking in the sun, when I heard a raptor scream. And the bugger flew right overhead in its full glory before I could get the camera out and on. I can tell you several things about it. It’s not a bald eagle – the coloration and markings were completely wrong, even for a juvenile. It was a kind of yellowish-tan hue with dark spots and creamy bits. It was utterly lovely. And it, being a bird and therefore an unutterable bastard, decided to go show off from a distance by the time I’d got my camera ready.

Still. A few halfway decent shots, perhaps enough for you to work with. And the memory of gorgeous gliding death soaring straight overhead.

UFD I

So that’s as close as I ever got. Pathetic. Thirty seconds before, it had practically landed on my head. The birds round here conspire, I tell you. They do this on purpose. “Hey, you know what would be fun? Ima buzz Dana and then fly off behind a tree as soon as her camera comes on. Snortle.”

Still, this cropped shot turned out somewhat okay.

UFD II

That’s as close as I can get to its actual colors, after playing with the contrast and highlights and such. It’s enough to tell it ain’t a bald eagle, and it’s probably not a red-tailed hawk.

The next two aren’t so great, but I include them in case they are helpful.

UFD III

UFD IV

You know, it’s almost too bad I don’t have a mouse problem. Look at it looking down: I’ll bet I could’ve got its attention with a nice, fresh mouse hot from the trap and full o’ purloined cheese. I’ll bet it would have condescended to come close if I’d had something like that on offer. Ah, well, this shall have to do.

UFD V

As you can tell, I had to shoot through power lines for a bit there, which was somewhat useful, actually: I could aim ahead of it and get the camera to develop some idea of focus before the raptor soared into the shot and got snapped.

Crop of the above:

UFD IV

And there you can see just a wee bit o’ detail. Quite lovely. But I have no idea what it is. Golden eagle? Some sort of hawk? Falcon? I am teh suck at teh birds.

I kind of like this final shot because it looks a bit like a cruising parrot.

UFD VII

Or is that just me?

There were actually two of them up there, but the other was further away, so I didn’t bother trying to photograph it. We get quite a few raptors round here. They love our drumlin. Sometimes in the summer, when I’m lounging on the porch with an improving book and the felid, I’ll hear them shouting to each other in the trees. There was a baby this year that was quite vocal, liked to throw hysterical fits. And you’ll sometimes see the crows get cross with them. Then there are the times when they’re just soaring in lazy circles overhead, and I’ll stand there for a bit with my neck craned back, watching them enjoy their updrafts. I like them a lot. And it’s nice to know we seem to have variety.

For those of you wondering how I spend my weekends when I’m not off adventuring, this is it:

Moi hard at work.

That’s a brand new notepad acquired from Staples, and it is filling with plans for ETEV and Rosetta Stones. I think best in longhand. Sometimes, I even write blog posts that way – especially when I’m at work or somewhere else where there’s no wi-fi and/or I haven’t got my computer. And yes, I sometimes do write outside in the glorious sunshine, whilst raptors soar and other birds laugh at me from the bushes.

It’s not a bad life, this writing life. Portable. Interesting. Difficult, but worth it.

Thank you for giving me good excuses to carry on, with occasional pauses to catch you a bird.

New at Rosetta Stones: Questions About Comments

I’m wanting to know what readers think about commenting at Rosetta Stones. There’s even a survey! Whee! You needed to waste a few minutes, right? Go have fun and give me an earful.

Commenting here appears to have become more difficult for some folk, so if you want to vent your woes in the survey, there’s a bit at the end for additional comments. You can let ‘er rip there, but please be sure to mention you’re talking about ETEV when you do. I’ll pass along your choice words to our webmaster.

It Wasn’t Bluffing

I took my boys to Discovery Park for a little lovely geology. We’ve done this sort o’ thing before, but it wasn’t quite as exciting as this.

Started off rather quietly. Nice, leisurely breakfast at a Thai food place, ramble through the meadows and down the bluff. Mind you, there was a bit of foreshadowing.

This sign is 100% correct, as we shall see later.

Unstable bluffs were the whole reason for being there. I love the bluffs at Discovery Park. There are few places around Puget Sound that show off our glacial legacy so well. It’s a colorful layer cake of sediments that record thousands of years of local history, from the pre-Cordilleran floodplains to the glacial outwash at the top. And then there’s the small matter of the glacial lake in the middle… but we’ll get to the gifties it left in a moment.

The obligatory artsy shot of the Sound.

Late summer flowers, although I suppose these are now fall flowers, and the Sound. Quite lovely. We paused for admiration, and walked on a bit, and South Bluff came within view, and it was a kids-in-completely-unexpected-candy-store moment.

Now, at this juncture, I wish to refresh your memories. We’ve been to Discovery Park before.

South Bluff, October 2010

I haven’t been keeping up on the local news. Which is nice, because then, this came as a rather a bit of a surprise, which probably wasn’t quite so delightful to normal people but was pretty exciting for Ryan and I:

The new South Bluff

Yes, it appears there was a bit of an incident with the Lawton Clay. The old bluff ain’t what it used to be – but then, it never is. Thing about bluffs is this: they change. Not always so drastically, but they change frequently. It’s why building on a bluff with an ocean view is best seen as a temporary venture.

Ryan inspecting the invasion.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get right round it because the tide was mostly in, but if Seattle gives us one more nice day before endless rain, I’ll get a full set of before-and-after photos for ye. I’d already meant to do a nice set of posts on our local geology’s propensity for slip-sliding down from where it is wanted to where it isn’t. This shall illustrate it nicely.

Add it to the endless list of things I wish to write. Sigh.

Right. So that’s one thing Darwin loved: geology. We found another, of course, this being Discovery Park, which has got a beach, and other things beginning with b.

Barnacles with odd ideas in housing

These barnacles have taken up residence on an aluminum can. Odd little buggers. When our other Ryan showed these to me, my eyes did that little WTF jiggle.

Well. That’s one way to recycle, I suppose.

At journey’s end, we took quite good advantage of the timer on my camera to have a bit of a portrait.

Ryan, Dana and Ryan – aka The Doctor, Amy and Rory. Heh.

And a traditional duet.

The happy geobloggers

Such a beautiful day, with such beautiful people, and unexpected delights, and the sun. Lovely!

The S Has Hit the F

So, you know that feeling you get when your rage button has been pressed so hard for so long that you hit that nice plateau where you’re furious, but happy? It’s that one you get to because you’ve been pushed beyond hoping the finger will stop jabbing. It’s the place you arrive at when you realize you have nothing to lose, and you have donned your warpaint, chosen your warpath, and embarked upon it with your best warhorse.

I am there. It took five years and quitting smoking, but I’m so there.

That’s why I haven’t been around the past couple of days: my company, after five years of spectacular fuckups, decided no cool-down period was needed between sessions with the rage button. And I realized: there are many jobs I’m qualified for open right now. Sure, they don’t have cushy union benefits, and I’ll lose that scrumptious extra week of vacation, and I’ll have to move, and I won’t be close enough to come home to the elderly cat on lunch breaks. But still, jobs. Other jobs. Elsewhere. With good pay. And if I get fired for rocking the boat, even if I can’t land another job immediately, I have been with the company so long they have no choice but to pay unemployment. Tee-hee. Freedom! Freedom to yell repeatedly and loudly at people rather high up, freedom to stand on principle, freedom to tell them to shape up or watch it come down to a question of will I find a job I like elsewhere before they find a bullshit excuse to dismiss me? All the while, being cheered on by those who have too much to lose to fight. And I’m staying not just for the cushy union benefits etc., but to fight that last good battle for those who can’t.

This, mind, is the kind of freedom Republicans don’t want peons to have, but I’m in a Blue state working a union job, so they’re out of luck.

And if the higher-ups listen, it will be good for the company anyway. Happy employees, happy customers, etc. They want that. They keep telling us that’s exactly what they want. It just seems that the jab-employee-rage-buttons reflex is so strong it overrides their stated desire to improve. And that’s fine. If they can’t get past that, I can certainly get past them.

Things may become chaotic for a bit, but I have my battle plans, and they include divesting myself of extraneous responsibilities at the workplace in order to concentrate on what should have been most important all along: you and my cat. With winter on its way and duties cut down to only those included in my job title, I should be able to devote plenty of attention to you both.

The last adventures of the summer season will soon be over: we have my boys tomorrow, and then maybe a small local bit o’ fun Sunday if the weather entices, and that October trip to wherever-it’s-best with Lockwood, then done. And do I ever have a collection of things to present to you this winter. Oh, my darlings, you don’t think I run around outside merely for fun, do you? Okay, well, admittedly, bringing you treasures is fun, but it’s also my job.

So look forward to that. And do be sure to lay in a supply of popcorn. You’ll be needing it.

In Which Pumpkins are Hurled. Plus, a Horse for RQ.

Deary me. It seems all of you can hardly wait for the moment where you get to sit on the edge of your seats and watch Trebuchet and I launch pumpkins from, well, trebuchets. I’d meant to inflict horses upon you today, but never let it be said I neglect my readers. Well, not badly neglect. I’ve done the hack-and-slash on the video I shot, and here you are: two trebuchet vids!

Mind you, the camera was left sitting on a trailer hitch, it’s a bit tilted, and you can’t always follow the pumpkin. But you do get to see nearly all of this first one’s flight:

That was the tiny trebuchet, with an unknown boy firing. That one’s just about my speed. I could store a trebuchet like that on the porch, and use it to annoy – ah, I mean, entertain – my neighbors. I’ll bet you I could reach the treeline from where I am. May have to remove the porch roof, though. The new owners of the complex may become upset. Perhaps I should have Trebuchet introduce them to trebuchets first…

Right. This next one is not, alas, the record-shattering hurl. The record-shattering hurl was not captured on video. But this was a respectable hurl, and I got to pull the trigger for it, too, and you might enjoy it anyway, although you unfortunately don’t get to see the pumpkin go splat at the end. Hire me a camera crew the next time we go out and I’ll get you pumpkin-pulping action.

For now, this is what you get:

And really, it’s close enough to that trebuchet’s personal best as makes no difference.

So there ye are. My first experience at pumpkin hurling, and we set a record for best distance achieved by that trebuchet, and the weather was glorious and the pumpkins abundant. If I figure out how, I’ll delight you all later with some gifs of the large trebs launching. And Trebuchet himself can discuss some of the technical details.

I’m going to go pretend I never put a video on YouTube of myself participating in a pumpkin hurl now. Must… find… distraction…

Oh, look! Here is a very lovely Friesian for RQ:

A Friesian Freelancer at the Snohomish Pumpkin Hurl and Medieval Faire.

This is where I admit a particular weakness for “those spindly, fancy, dancing warmbloods.” Draft horses have always been a kinda meh thing for me – I mean, they’re horses, and for that reason alone I squee when in their presence, but they seem plodding and oversized and those huge hooves are frankly comic. I go weak in the knees for the Thoroughbreds, the Arabians, the Paso Finos (no, I know you’ve never heard of a Paso Fino – don’t look at me with your mouth open like that, click the link). I love sleek and elegant horses that look like a zephyr and run like stilettos. And I like Mustangs and quarter horses and Morgans and all those bread-and-butter breeds, those home-on-the-range, cowboy-rides-away horses. I quite like Standardbreds, too, and for sheer oddity, I loves me a Tennessee Walking Horse – you’ll never forget your first sight of that bizarre gait of theirs.

And if you ever need to bribe me, you can make it a Black Andalusian.

Now.

I will admit that draft breeds are entirely awesome. When the Budweiser Clydesdales are passing by, it’s like a substantial mobile earthquake. Before John Deere, there were Shires. They’re the early tanks and tractors, and they’re wonderful. Admittedly. They just don’t make my heart flutter whilst going pitter-pat.

Until.

Until.

You show me a Friesian, and then it’s like the best of all possible worlds.

The Friesian again. Drool.

Power, grace and style. Oh, yes.

And then someone came along and seems to have said, “What will make RQ and Dana both go utterly speechless with helpless adoration?” and, after some brainstorming, bred this. But that’s a story for another day…