Friday, June 29, 2007

Xtreme Censing

Do you cringe when that short deacon at your parish swings the censer at apparent random? Flinch instinctively when Father does the asperges as if he's aiming for your head? You must watch how they do the censing at Santiago de Compostela. (The fun starts at about one minute in.)

Just tell yourself, if you die during Mass, first-class ticket to heaven....

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Of Moths and Men

Yahmdallah is scared of moths. Hey, stay out of central Texas, we've got an unusual number of big ol' hummingbird moths (see above photo) flocking this year. They really do look like hummingbirds--they're big and they hover in place while they feed. One of them laid a clutch of eggs on our porch post, to the infinite delight of Offspring #1.

But I don't care for unidentified visiting reptiles. Behold the latest e-mails off our neighborhood listserve:
E-mail #1:
Hello neighbors,
Is anyone missing a five foot long black and gold snake? It appeared
in our front lawn this morning.

Please email me offlist immediately if this snake belongs to you. We will otherwise take it to the creek later this evening.

Thanks so much!

E-mail #2:
Hello again,

Through the space between the lid and container, propped open with a stick, the snake made a break for it around 4 p.m. It's happily slithering its way around [neighborhood] as I write.

I am not doing any yardwork any time soon.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Baby Name Madness

Five weeks from The Event, and we've settled on the little one's name; but it's still fun to look around at the baby name blogs and software. For a long time, the best naming tool on the web was the Baby Name Voyager (whipped up by Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard), which lets you consult the Social Security Database for the last 100-odd years to see just how popular your name choice has been. You can reach back into another era for unexpected names capable of rehabilitation, or just find out in time if your name choice was uber-trendy five years ago and is now sooooo 2002.

Wattenberg now has a new tool, just as cool and useful: the Nymbler. Based on Wattenberg's database of names linked by cultural attribution, you just plug in some names you like (or names you would like except there's something not quite perfect about them), click, and you get a menu of other names you might like. Plug in your children's names and see what your naming style says about your preferences. Add names you like from the list, click again, and get a refined list of name choices.

It was impressive to see what names Eudoxus and I had showing up on the list when we entered our top choices. Though it was a little disturbing to find out that we were also likely to favor Nimrod, Napoleon, and Gottlieb for a boy (having entered Balthazar and Linus--the software wouldn't take Bede), it was nice to see Willa, Ursula, and Ada (two names we'd considered for a girl, and one we wished we had) suggested. Confirmation at least of the consistency of our naming preferences, if not of our pragmatic wisdom in name choices.

Go, play with it.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Serrefine, Coryza, and the Tragedy of Clevis

The high drama of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is over for another year, and, as with this year's National Geographic Bee, ends with a victory for a homeschooler, Evan O'Dorney. This year's winner illustrates not only the continuing dominance of homeschoolers--four of the top 15 finishers were homeschooled--but the increasing variation in what "homeschooling" can mean: O'Dorney represented a public independent study/homeschool, Venture School, which appears to be a sort of public umbrella school. Or something.

Best quote:

"My favorite things to do were math and music, and with the math I really like the way the numbers fit together," [O'Dorney] said. "And with the music I like to let out ideas by composing notes - and the spelling is just a bunch of memorization."