Monday, 31 December 2007

Sunday, 30 December 2007

The flibbertigibbet at sea

My niece The Chicken, aka The Flibbertigibbet, is on the Trinidad & Tobago Women's Youth Sailing Team. Here she is with her teammates in a publicity shot before their recent regatta in St. Maarten. She's the one on the extreme right.

You go, Chicken!

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Stop me if you've heard this one...

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his English class one day. “In English,” he said, “a double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative.”
A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”

A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell. She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.
“Oh my,” said the writer. “Let me see heaven now.”
A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.
“Wait a minute,” said the writer. “This is just as bad as hell!”
“Oh no, it’s not,” replied an unseen voice. “Here, your work gets published.”

A visitor to a certain college paused to admire the new Hemingway Hall that had been built on campus."It's a pleasure to see a building named for Ernest Hemingway," he said.
"Actually," said his guide, "it's named for Joshua Hemingway. No relation."
The visitor was astonished. "Was Joshua Hemingway a writer, also?"
"Yes, indeed," said his guide. "He wrote a check."

A screenwriter comes home to a burned down house. His sobbing and slightly-singed wife is standing outside. “What happened, honey?” the man asks.
“Oh, John, it was terrible,” she weeps. “I was cooking, the phone rang. It was your agent. Because I was on the phone, I didn’t notice the stove was on fire. It went up in second. Everything is gone. I nearly didn’t make it out of the house. Poor Fluffy is--”
“Wait, wait. Back up a minute,” The man says. “My agent called?”

Q. What's the difference between publishers and terrorists?
A. You can negotiate with terrorists.

Close encounters of the bird kind

Last night the electricity went. Again. Over the last three weeks this has been an almost nightly occurence, so I performed the requisite cussing routine then went to bed although it was only about 7 PM. By midnight I was up and on the computer, with the rain falling and the wind gusting. It was altogether quite a cosy setting.

After awhile the rain eased up, the wind died, and something landed on the roof. For the next hour or so, this creature stamped back and forth, creating a rather interesting uproar. I decided it had to be a bird of some sort. From the sounds it was making, I deduced that it must be an albatross.

I went outside, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner echoing in my head, hoping to catch sight of the monstrous presence on the roof and fearing that I would have to defend my life against this humongous bird of prey. I could just see the thing gliding down, grabbing me in its talons and swooping off to some distant aerie to devour me at its leisure. I know what you're thinking, that it would take some bird to even lift the likes of me, far less to swoop away with my poundage dangling from its claws. All I'll say in my defence is that you did not hear this thing. I did. This was a big bird.

Peering up at the roofline revealed nothing, so I briefly toyed with the idea of hurling some stones on to the galvanize to scare the creature away, but my mother was sleeping and would not have taken kindly to rocks crashing on to the roof in the dead of midnight. I went back indoors and after a while, a long while, the stamping and clattering stopped.

My sister scoffed when I mentioned the albatross adventure to her today. Fie, I say to her. Ridicule me all you like. So what if the albatross is native to Antarctica?

I know what I heard. She didn't.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Tropical Greetings from Wordtryst

Best Wishes to All for a Very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

This blog is celebrating its sixth month, and special thanks go to all who visited: the regulars; the lurkers; those who dropped by once, or twice; the new friends and the old ones. You have made a special contribution to my blog, and my life.

To my old friends Dion and Vaughn: thanks for taking the time out of your busy lives to visit. (Vaughn, what's with the Mr. Anon business? There, you're outed.)

To my new blog buddies: thanks for all the discussion, the feedback, the laughter, the encouragement, the empathy, the stimulation and information I get from your comments and from reading your blogs.

M.G. Tarquini

Here's to 2008!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Late again...

I went and posted about the BlogCatalog Unite in Acts of Kindness thingummy, but did I post about my own kind deeds on the day itself, as requested? Of course not. I was just too busy. (aka_lol took up the challenge, however, and probably got roundly cussed out for his trouble.) To complicate matters, I have mixed feelings about all this public do-gooding; surely one should do one's good works quietly. I think there's even something to that effect in the Bible.

So, this is late, and it's probably not what BlogCatalog had in mind, but here goes...

Since I generally try to be kind in my everyday dealings on this earth, the promotion served to remind me that it's equally important that I be kind to myself. So here's what I did:
  • I refused to look in the mirror and criticize myself. So what if I don't see the sylph-like figure of my teens and twenties? Hell, I'm old enough to show some wear and tear, and all things considered, I'm not doing too badly.
  • I bought a bottle of Jamaican Rum Cream Liqueur, coconut flavour, for no good reason, and went home and celebrated for no good reason.
  • I counted my blessings.
  • I spent some quality time with my niece The Chicken, aka The Flibbertigibbet. She's thirteen and ditzy, loves to sail her boat, chat on the phone (duh!), and play in my hair. We kind of like each other a lot. I suspect she suspects that I never really grew up.
  • I refused to think of all the things I should be doing for Christmas. Ha.

And that was it for my be-kind-to-me day. Remember, everyone, it's important to show kindness to others, but it's equally important to be kind to oneself. Very often we treat our selves far more harshly than we would dream of treating anyone else.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Join Bloggers Unite on December 17!

From the folks over at BlogCatalog:
Thousands of bloggers from around the world are performing acts of kindness right now so they can post their stories on December 17. Will you be one of them?

BlogCatalog members hope so!

On Monday, December 17th, post about some act of kindness you performed — making a donation, helping someone move, volunteering your time, or even something as simple as paying someone an unexpected compliment — and then share your story with a post, photo, or video on your blog.

It's easy to do good so please join us. This is our chance to show the world that bloggers have heart online and off. Perform just a single act of kindness and then share your Bloggers Unite "Acts of Kindness" story on December 17. Every post will count!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

The Best Medicine - 7 things that made me laugh out loud this week

1. "My name is Pussy. Pussy Galore." - a character in the Goldfinger movie I just watched for the first time.

2. Matt's post on Santa Claus' existential crisis.

3. Lane brainstorming for words that describe her and coming up with 'incontinent'.

4. Kevin's comment (on my Coast to Coast post) re keeping my son and his daughters far away from each other.

5. Local TV presenter Paolo Kernahan's suggestion that women could use a guillotine-like device in their underwear to deter rapists. The device, he claims, would provide them with evidence that will stand up in court.

6. Kevin's description of an encounter with a snake inside his car while he was driving: "Much merriment ensued."

7. My sister's suggestion that certain DVDs (like No Country for Old Men) should come with a warning sticker something like the one above to let women know that we view them at our peril. What a horrible movie. And they killed Woody Harrelson in it. Hello, you movie people out there. You don't kill off Woody! What you ought to do is show some shower scenes of the guy, like the ones of nekkid women that you force down our throats at every opportunity. When are the PTBs in Hollywood going to figure out that women like to see sexy guys in the buff too?

Oops. #7 became a bit of a rant there, didn't it... Thanks for the humour, everyone.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Thursday thirteen: UK vs. US

My friend Darlene in San Diego was puzzled when I mentioned that one of the final checks I give a manuscript before it goes out is to ensure that I have conformed to American spelling, since the markets I submit to are American. She was not aware that the English spoken in the UK and many of its former colonies - like those here in the Caribbean - is not identical to American English.

C'mon, folks. It's not just the accents that diverge. It's also the spelling, grammar, vocabulary, idiom, formatting of dates and numbers et al. There are even differences in the approach to punctuation. To quote George Bernard Shaw, the United States and United Kingdom are "two countries divided by a common language".

Here are thirteen examples of these differences:

1. The ise (UK) vs. ize (US) divide: realise/realize, recognise/recognize, specialise/specialize...

2. The our (UK) vs. or (US) divide: labour/labor, favour/favor, harbour/harbor, neighbour/neighbor...

3. UK: post, postman, postbox. US: mail,mailman, mailbox.

4. UK: Primary school. US: Elementary school.

5. UK: Secondary school. US: High school.

6. UK: pavement. US: sidewalk. (In the US I believe the pavement refers to the paved surface of the road, so you don't caution your children like we do to walk on the pavement.)

7. UK: Bank holiday. US: Public holiday.

8. UK: A public school is an elite private school. (Don't ask) US: A public school is a state-run school.

9. UK: The past participle of some verbs can be either regular or irregular, for example learned/learnt, burned/burnt, leaped/leapt, dreamed/dreamt, spilled/spilt. US: The irregular form of these verbs is never or rarely used.

10. UK: Athletes play in a team. US: Athletes play on a team.

11. UK: The last letter of the alphabet is pronounced zed. US: It's pronounced zee.

12. UK: 'First floor' is the one above the entrance level while the entrance level is the 'ground floor'. US: 'First floor' is the ground level, and the one above is the 'second floor'.

13. UK: Digital time is written with a point, for example, 6.00 US: Digital time is always written with a colon: 6:00

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Trinidad Coast to Coast

The Tropical Power Coast to Coast race took place here a few weeks ago. It's a two-day stage race traversing the island from the east coast, along the north coast, and ending on the western peninsula. The participants used three core disciplines: road cycling, trail running, and paddling. The athletes came from all over the world; the winner was multi-sport world champion Richard Ussher, a New Zealander who dominated the race despite the heavy rains on Day 2 of the event.

My son Richard was on one of the photographic teams. Here are some of his shots; the final shot was taken by Jim O'Connor. For more shots of the race and photography discussion, hop over to Jim's blog at jtography.

Part of the scenic north coast

Jim finds a perch to shoot a cyclist

A runner splashes through surf

Paddler's view of marina on west peninsula

...and here's Richard waiting for that great shot!