Monthly Archives: November 2005

It’s Winter…

We had our first real snow –the one that stays on the ground– this weekend, and we saw trucks loaded with fir trees, heading towards the city. We drove up north, and the mountains, white with new snow, with the lazy river becoming sluggish in part, it put me in mind of the holidays. Gotta start getting ready!

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Love for this World

Sunset is evident in Ladislav Kamarad’s photography. Although he’s taken photographs from all over the world, the pictures from his own Czech country are my favorites. This picture, titled Sunset over the Muzske Kameny – the Giant Mountains, is sensual and hot, even though the rocks are covered with snow. All of the pictures in this series are imbued with great affection.

However, you can decide for yourself by browsing through all of them in this gallery. His pictures of Namibia are stark and stress how arid the country is; Bolivia is a contrast of mountains and plains; Mexico is wildness from the side of the road; Peru, and Pakistan, the peaks; Patagonia is earth and ocean, and wildlife; and Nepal is its people. With the Czech Republic, it’s nature, in all its subdued glory.

Well worth the visit.

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Take a drug and lose weight

I’m the first one to admit I should lose weight. There’s nothing I would like better than find the magic pill to do so: no fuss, no muss, swallow and lose. A dream diet.
It looks like they’ve developed such a pill. Acomplia, the miracle drug.

[…]the drug helped reduced fat around the waist, increased good cholesterol, lowered signs of inflammation in the blood vessels, and improved the body’s ability to handle insulin.

The drug, they say, is not for “cosmetic weight loss” (rats), but for severely overweight people.

But wait, there one or two catches: the drug can cause severe anxiety and nausea (gee, no wonder the patients lost weight) and once you’re off the drug, the food cravings reappear and you start eating again.

Sheesh. I guess it’s back to a good diet and exercise for me.

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Currently Reading…

Long For This World Long for This World, by Michael Byers.

Henry Moss, a geneticist studying an obscure genetic disease called Hickman that accelerates old age in children, thinks he has found the cure. Throughout the story, he will battle against ethical questions, such as direct human trials of the drug, and profiting from the disease. Woven into Henry’s questions about life are his wife’s and children’s struggles about their own life: getting old or older, and what that means to them, the transformations, the dilemmas, the trying to define or redefine who they are.

The premise of the story is fascinating and topical. The counterpoint of a child growing old too fast because of the disease and normal children growing too fast from a parent’s perspective is also well done. Nevertheless, there is something missing in the story, and I’m not sure I can pinpoint what it is.

The book is too long and needed a better edit. I sometimes felt that Byers had fallen in love with his own words, forgetting about his story. The prose generally flows well, then all of a sudden it becomes lyrical and overflowery, or dense and obscure. These bits read like experiments, and pretentious. I would lose patience with these passages that added nothing to the story and made me stumble. After a while, I’d see them coming and would skip them.

The ending is equally disappointing: there is no resolution of Henry’s ethical dilemma –just a giving in and a return to normalcy. Life goes on, as if the life-giving possibility had been a TV episode, watched and forgotten.

There is the –clichéed– message that all our experiences forge who we are, but there is a sense of unfinishness to the story, a sense that something crucial was left out. Sure, it’s what life is often about, but, somehow, I expected more from such a huge, important, topical issue in a hefty story.

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A Word a Day

Word a DayFor a couple of years, now, I’ve been enjoying a new word every day, right in my email box. Anu Garg is an erudite linguist who started the free web list in 1994 while she was a graduate student. Every week has a theme, the word’s definition, a couple of examples on how to use the word, and, possibly, some commentary from Anu herself.

Some words are pretty esoteric and unusable in day-to-day conversation:

antanaclasis (ant-an-uh-KLAS-is) noun

A play on words in which a key word is repeated in a > different, often contrary, sense.

[From Greek antanaklasis (echo or reflection), from anti-> (against) + ana- + klasis (breaking or bending).]

Some others are more mundane:

This week’s theme: French terms for food.

macedoine (mas-i-DWAN) noun

A mixed dish, usually of fruit and/or vegetables, in which several different varieties are combined into a colorful tableau.

[From French macédoine, from Macédoine (Macedonia). The reference is to the Balkan area of many different territories and ethnic groups that Alexander the Great welded into a single unit.]

All in all, it’s fun and educational, and you can send comments on each word if you want.

Anu has published two books about words, based on her famous (more than 600,000 subscribe to Word-A-Day) service. You can find them here.

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