Friday, December 30, 2005

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

Oso recently wrote that he has been ill. Jokingly I suggested to him that he go to the mercado and get some chochitos. Many Mexicans use homeopathic medicine when they are not feeling well - part of this consists of going to the local market and buying chochos, which means little pills or sprinkles (a cookie with sprinkles has chochos and a medicinal capsule also has chochos).

Not knowing what chochitos were, Oso googled it and got this page. As it turns out chocho has multiple meanings. It is one of those words in Spanish that can get you in trouble if you use it some place other than your native land. In Spain, chocho is a vulgar term for vulva, which Oso believes would make him, or anyone else for that matter, feel better.

In my attempt to find proper uses of the word online, I came across a recipe from Venezuela where chochos seem to be a type of food (yet another meaning!). I quickly ran it through the google translator. I did not get a translation of chochos - however if you keep in mind the Spanish definition, this is a quite amusing recipe. Never mind that it calls for some pope and a pricked onion. Moreover, you get to guild yourself and the pope. Without further ado, here is the recipe:
Locro of chochos

- 1 cup of bare chochos
- 2 pounds of Pope, in slices, heavy half, half thin.
- 1/2 milk cream cup
- 1 1/2 liters of water
- 1 milk cup
- 1/2 cup of pricked white onion
- 2 spoonfuls of mantequilla
- 1 avocado in slices
- 1 tomato in rodajas
- sauce of red pepper to the pleasure
- encurtidas onions
- salt and pepper to the pleasure
- lettuce leaves

To warm up mantequilla, to add the onion and to fry until I gilded myself.

To add the Popes and to fry to upper middle fire of five to ten minutes, to remove constantly until the Pope is gilded.

To add to the cream and milk when boiling to add the hot water, the salt and the pepper. To cook by twenty to thirty minutes or until the thin slices of Popes undo partly, to thicken locro.

To liquefy half of the chochos with a little soup until forming a cream, reserving until the moment for serving.

To add the rest of the chochos, to the soup and to let boil, add the cream of chochos and extinguish the fire.

To serve adorned with a slice as avocado, average leaf of lettuce, one rodaja of tomato and encurtidas onions.

Taken from the recipe book of the national program of leguminosas station Santa Clara. (July 1998)

Envoy by Sara N. Boada Andrade
Resident of Caracas, Venezuela
You can find the original Spanish version here.

I still am not sure what Venezuelan chochos are. There is a Venezuelan take out place a couple of miles away that I have been wanting to try. Should I ask there? What is they are people who have lived in Spain? I might get into some trouble.

In any case, Oso did not take my advice. Instead he listened to others and had Sopa Azteca, which as far as I know has only one meaning (although several ways of preparing it). It seems to be working and he is feeling better, just in case you were concerned.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Yes, it is that time of year. I have a stack of final projects to grade so I can submit final grades. Last week I thought final grades were due sometime this week. I found out, though, that they are due January 3. Ha! An excuse to procrastinate. Instead of sitting myself down and grading last Friday, I put it off.

Now the 3rd is approaching quickly so it needs to get done. Having failed to make much progress with them at home, I took myself to a coffee place, bought a big cuppajoe, sat myself down, and began to do my business (no, not that business, although all that joe did make a couple of breaks necessary).

I was about two thirds of the way done, my back was aching, my legs were cramping, and the place was getting crowded, when the woman at the next table came over. She was holding a plug. Her laptop's battery was about to die and she knew there was an outlet just behind my chair. Despite my determination to plow ahead, this gave me an excuse to escape. Since she was sitting at a table and I was in a plush arm-chair, I knew she would jump at the opportunity to move into the welcoming warmth of the cushioned corner. I told her I was about to leave and she could have my spot.

I was right.

Now I am home, easily distracted, I smell like coffee, and I still have papers to grade. I vow to finish them tonight. But now I must run to rid myself of more of that joe.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Late Evening Musings

I saw a cardinal today. It was just outside our kitchen window. This may not be a big deal to most people in this part of the country.

It was to me.

The cardinal is ubiquitous as a pictured bird: as the mascot of many sports teams and the official bird of many states. I have only seen a real cardinal a few times, though. And everytime I see one, I am amazed by its color. It is so bright, it almost seems unreal.

I watched it with fascination. I thought about how predators could easily spot it (as compared to the drab sparrows that were popping about nearby and blended in with the dirt and rotting leaves). I also wondered what it was doing around here. If I were a bird, I would be headed south to warmer places.

Dumb bird.

It still made me happy to see it. Just like when I spot a great blue herron or an eagle or a falcon or a wild parot. They are majestic creatures. It probably also has to do with one of my desires. Deep down I have a wish I could fly. Someday I might take flying lessons. Or maybe take up gliding (in a glider or maybe even hand gliding). Skydiving isn't as appealing. That basically is just falling. Falling with a view. I guess gliding is falling too, but you have more control. Flying - that probably would have been the eight item on my list of things to do before I "kick the bucket." I guess it also something I cannot do - at least not right now.

Moving on.

Yesterday I posted about Kurt Vonnegut. As it happens, today's Boston Globe has an op-ed by his son, Mark Vonnegut. Mark is a pediatrician in the Boston area. Before he got his medical degree, he was crazy and a hippie. He wrote a book about it. The title he chose for it was The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity.

Would you take your child to see a physician who has been diaganosed as severely schizophrenic? Perhaps if your child is having issues with mental illness. If I had a child I would not have any qualms about taking her (or him) to see Dr. Vonnegut. I think I am in the minority, though.

Sara has read his book. After reading his op-ed, I want to read it too. In fact, I just bought it on Amazon. Talk about your impulse buying.

After this discourse on red birds and crazy writers/physicians, time has come for bed.

Rats. I always seem to escape these things, but Mariposa pegged me. I will bite the bullet and do this thing:

Seven things I plan to do before I kick the can:
1. Visit all the places I dream about visiting
2. Go to Canyon Ranch with Sara for a total indulgent time
3. Learn to scuba dive
4. Learn another language (I really would like to learn Nahua or Maya)
5. Find out just why I have to kick the can
6. Get tenured
7. Let Sara know everyday how much I love her

Seven things I can do:
1. Think
2. Love
3. Teach
4. Explore
5. Listen
6. Empathize
7. Walk the dogs

Seven things I can't do:
1. Dance well
2. Sing (in a way that dogs don't howl and Sara won't throw things at me)
3. Make the clicks used in the !Kung (!Xũũ) language
4. Enjoy hot and humid weather unless I am in a tropical paradise
5. Have a baby
6. Tolerate hate based on ignorance
7. Play Beethoven on a toy piano

Seven things that attract me to another person:
1. Intelligence
2. Makes me laugh
3. Kindness
4. Sense of adventure
5. Smile
6. Uniqueness
7. A story in their eyes

Seven things I say most often:
1. Oh no! (and all forms derived from this such as crap! etc.)
2. Que flojera!
3. Moooo... (long story...)
4. Damn Boston drivers!
5. I love you (to Sara).
6. What good dogs!
7. I need a vacation!

Seven people to do this little blogger game:
1. Sara, of course
2. Sherri
3. Scott
4. Oso
5. Frankie
6. Ktrion
7. Beaver

Monday, December 26, 2005

Digital Short Story

Moving on with the times...

I bought my first digital short story online today. I will still have to print it out. There is something wrong about reading on the screen. Unless it is someone's personal online journal (aka "blogs"), of course.

Fifty cents - that's what it cost. What would have Dickens thought? Twain? Hemingway? Somehow I can really picture those three writing blogs. Would they have become literary greats (I know some my have a quarrel with that label) had they been distracted by the cyberworld?

I am reading Vonnegut's latest booklet. It's a hoot! He eschewed technology - never moving past the typewriter. I think he would have pushed the cyberworld into new dimensions had it overlapped more with his life.

Anyway, that is my literary post for the year. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


All I ever get is Peanuts...

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Found through Ktrion

I have always wanted to play Beethoven on a toy piano, but I never have succeeded.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Another day, another rejection letter.

The first few were easy to take, but as they have been streaming in it has gotten a little more difficult. It is hard to keep a positive attitude.

In better news, Sara and I found a great place to eat. More on that later - it is lunch time and writing about food is not a good topic. I am off to eat!

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Thank you for your interest, but...

Yes, the multitude of job applications I sent out are beginning to spawn the return rejection letters. I have gotten three already:
  1. University of San Diego
  2. University of British Columbia
  3. Lehigh University
<--- Keep track with the handy counter in the sidebar.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mental Leftovers

As you may recall, Sara and I went down to DC a couple of weeks ago for a conference. While we were down there we accomplished many of the goals we set for ourselves, professional and personal. I won't go into detail about the professional ones - they are rather boring.

Our personal, or tourist, goals included:
  • Sara needed to go up the Washington Monument
  • I wanted to see the World War II Memorial and the American Indian Museum
  • Sara wanted to see the corpse plant at the United States Botanic Gardens
  • We both wanted to get some Ethiopian food

We had tried to go up the Washington Monument twice before (I went up twice before I met Sara). Once it was closed for renovations and the other time it was in November 2001 (so it was closed as a result of paranoia/cautiousness). This time we were successful, but not after a few obstacles. We got there only to find out that you needed a ticket. The ticket is free, but it is timed. I was able to get tickets, but we had an hour and a half wait.

[All pictures courtesy of Sara and my camera]

As you can see it was a bit nippy that day, but we decided to walk down the length of the Mall to the Botanic Gardens to see the corpse plant. On the way there I got to see the outside of the American Indian Museum, which was enough for me at the time.

The corpse plant expedition was also successful, although it was a bit wilted (a bit like how I have been feeling lately, so I could relate). Unlike me, however, the plant did not stink anymore. This is what we saw:

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This is what we would have seen had we gone a couple of weeks earlier:

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While we were there we also got to see some beautiful orchids and a bunch of other plants.

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The roaming and screeching children were a bit irritating though. Who knew that I had become a grumpy old man?

We made our way back to the Monument and got to go up. We saw the WWII Memorial from the air. It was smaller than I had pictured it (and no, it is not just because I saw it from far away).

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The images in the media can be deceiving, but I should have known that already. Back on terra firma, we decided that it was too cold and we were too tired to spend more time outside. We did pop into the National Museum of American History to warm up, have some coffee, and check out an exhibit on Polio that we saw advertised during our previous stroll down the Mall.

From the Museum we hopped a cab and made our way to Adams Morgan to my favorite Ethiopian Restaurant in DC: Meskerem. This visit did not disappoint. We ate well and basked in our accomplishments of having achieved all our goals.

Despite the wonderful day, I did see something that left me feeling a bit uneasy. During our cab ride we drove past McPherson Square, which is a couple of blocks from the White House. The square was completely littered: with newspapers, trash, and people. There was a van handing out food and drink. I know homelessness is complex problem - I teach about it in some of my courses. Nonetheless, it is a shame on this country that we (as a wealthy society) cannot care for these people and that they become human litter that live only blocks from the residence of our leader. I thought about how we had been cold earlier in the day and were able to escape it by going into museums, hailing a cab, and returning to our hotel room. How petty was it of me to feel burdened about the weather...and what of the hypocrisy of our "Christian" leaders who do nothing to address the situation.

Ok, end of rant. End of this episode of mental leftovers.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Just in case you were wondering...

...yes, I am still alive. Despite this:

This is the view from my home-office window. The snow got so bad today that I could not see the houses across the street. The snow itself seemed to flow down the street. The only way to describe it is like a river of snow. I guess it also reminded me of when you fly through a cloud and you can see it rushing by through the window.

And there was lightning and thunder! I guess it can happen during a snow storm, but I had never experience that before.

What's that I hear? Sunny California beckoning...."Come, come, my warmth awaits you..."


There is more to say on other things...maybe tomorrow. Posted by Picasa