Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Unfinished Stories

One of the defining characteristics of a blog is its capacity for two-way communication (or three-way, or more.) Blogs without comments are web sites, not that that is a bad thing, it's just a different thing. Another characteristic is that a blog tells a story, but unlike a regular short story or novel these kinds of stories are open-ended and unfinished. From time to time, I get people dropping in to read my older posts, directed there by a search engine or a link published elsewhere.

This last week I had two such visitors, one was a woman who was looking for information about a most unique house. It turns out that she had actually lived in it as a child, she set me straight as to some technical details about the house's construction and brought the story up-to date. The other was a woman looking for information about a relative, a woman who was a teacher of mine. I gave her a call, and we both got a another chapter or two on this unfinished story which we unknowingly had in common.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Weaving Room

The summer fix-it project this year was the Weaving Room, the largest room in the house. Created in the addition of 1974 (before we lived here), the room had never really been finished at all. No proper flooring, an unfinished ceiling, it was missing trim and had a pair of hard to use closets.

It's all done now, only the second room in the whole house which can claim that distinction (the other room is the Weaver's office/Yoga retreat.) The kitchen is close to completion and my pine-paneled den isn't far from it either. Every one of the other rooms each need more than a day's worth of work, and we won't even mention the basement.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 7 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mondays in Iceland - #20

Steel Siding Symphony

"1902" flats, Vitastigur, 2004

If I had another life, I wouldn't mind living at least part of it here.

This building has been remodeled since this picture was taken.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dark End of the Street

Harrison Street at 2nd Avenue, Anoka, Minnesota, 2009

Five blocks down Harrison street from yesterday's featured corner is its terminus; if you went any further west you would end up in the Rum River, a peaty stream that drains hundreds of square miles of swampland in central Minnesota. The Native Americans used the Rum as a route between their northern hunting grounds and their southern settlements. You can put in your canoe here and paddle north all the way to Lake Mille Lacs. Some folk say that is where the Goths and Northmen who carved the Kensington Rune Stone camped in 1362. Nowadays, only the occasional fisherman or strolling couple explore the riverbank below the street's end, its shady darkness a welcome respite from the bright daylight.

From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road
We'll be lovers once again on the
Bright side of the road

~Van Morrison

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

all a couple of girls need is a street corner

not like last year this year all the girls need is a street corner nothing more a place to talk quietly a place without interruption or glances of disapproval about clothes about school about boys yeah the kids are alright the kids are alright the kids are alright

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Champion Tree

Green Ash, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Anoka, Minnesota, 2009

Of the millions of Green Ash trees in Minnesota, this one was chosen as a "Champion Tree." Growing on the banks of the Rum River, it is perhaps in the very spot where Father Hennepin alledgedly camped in 1680. The criteria for adjudging a tree as champion is its having the largest circumference at 4 feet above the ground. This tree is big, but not as big as the numerous cottonwoods which also line the river. Ash trees tend to be short-lived, those that do survive often get brittle, crack and decay. Enjoy this one while you may: Ash trees are under threat from the Emerald Ash Borer and they may go the way of the elms if no way is found to stop this insect.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Dancers

Precision in motion.



As much as anything.

Clutching each other.

Whirling into the night.

Faster than the speed of light.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mondays in Iceland - #19

2CV, Reykjavík, 2004

For some odd reason, I thought that Iceland would only have a few brands of automobiles, I supposed that because it is a small country, there would be few dealers and not a lot of variety.

Boy was I wrong. All sorts of vehicles, from all over the globe, including the somewhat frail looking Renault 2CV (pictured above.) This French "answer" to the Volkswagen had some of the earlier specimens powered by engines with as little as nine horsepower! You never see them in the U.S., no way could they meet DOT standards.

This wasn't the only one I saw there, either.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Emperor's New Clothes

Shopping for a cold weather trip (Iceland in October) is infinitely more challenging than a trip to the tropics. I'm not the most warm-blooded of creatures so I'll be packing wool, and plenty of it. That Land's End sweater is nice and oily, good for the damp. The Italian Merino (in a cardigan!) should suffice in more civilized situations, while the raglan from L.L. Bean (Shetland wool) would be just right for whiling away a few hours in a cozy pub.

Did someone say "Gap?"

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

You Are What You Eat?

Stephan Guyenet's food/nutrition blog Whole Health Source has been catching some of my ever-scarcer undivided attention lately. His series on the Paleolithic Diet intrigues me; eating a wide variety of natural foods has always seemed to make sense, and although his studies show that it is not a panacea for every ailment known to man, it goes a long way toward getting a person's body back in tune. The writing can be quite technical at times, but I highly recommend it to anyone interested in better nutrition.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


While cleaning out the garage, I came across a collection of straight razors, they had been in my father's garage for years. When I had the garage sale of his stuff I didn't put them out because they were still quite sharp and very dangerous in inexperienced hands.

These were nice razors in their day, made of the finest Swedish and German steel. One of the cases had a price of $3 printed on the label- a not inconsiderable sum back in the 20's. I remember my father using them, along with his brush and mug and the two leather strops he used to keep their edges fine. One strop was coarse brown, the other was smooth and black.

That's the one that really stung.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's the End of the World as We Know It

I have a feeling that we'll be seeing more of this kind of news in the future. Funny what eight years of continuous warfare does to a society's priorities.

Update: The legislature came up with a funding package, a 1% sales tax increase, and just in time. The layoff notices had already been prepared and were ready to mail next week.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mondays in Iceland - #18

Amiina, Minneapolis, 2007
One month from now (October 14th), The 11th Iceland Airwaves festival will begin (I hope.) Money problems, perhaps related to the Kreppa, perhaps not, have put the future of this unique event in limbo. From what I've read, November will bring new hardships and economic contractions to Iceland. Perhaps this will be a final hurrah, an end to an era. This festival, apart from its "exotic" locale, brings out a variety of musical acts, some are mainstream bands from the US and the UK, while others are from more isolated parts of Scandinavia and, of course, Iceland itself. The Airwaves I attended (in 2006) had performers ranging in age from 13 to 70, with rock, metal, techno, classical, folk, country, rockabilly, and numerous hybrids of these. Many of the groups performed in Icelandic. There have even been Faroese acts. This musical generation is the first to come of age in a world-wide pop culture, but there is just enough isolation left in the upbringing and education of these musicians to enable them to offer truly unique, innovate music.

If this event were to end, something will be lost which will be impossible to regain.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sign of theTimes

No too many years ago this was how you found out the prices at our local feed store at the end of my street. The store is still open, selling mostly pet food and hobby farm supplies. You can find links to it on the web, but the store has no site of its own. How about using this board again with a web cam aimed at it, 24/7? Sometimes, when high and low tech mix, the results can be more effective than either approach used by itself.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Internet Manifesto

A group of German bloggers have written an "Internet Manifesto", which, despite its somewhat didactic title, actually has some valid points:

(open the link in another window to see it along side this post.)

I especially like #1, #3, and #7, self evident, perhaps, but still important. #10, #11, and #12 are especially apt when considering the problems which the "old media" are facing. This piece is directed more toward "journalists" by which they mean "News Journalists." An important distinction. Anyone who keeps an on-line journal which contains content is a journalist. The content of these journals contain much more information about certain subjects than can any main stream media account.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

L'Opera dei Dannati

Dopo la transizione, mi ritrovai in una grande sala poco illuminata.
Ero a conoscenza di molte anime che mi circonda,
ma noi tutti siamo stati avvolti in nero.
Il sipario si alzò ad una estremità della sala rivelando un grande palcoscenico.
Un orchestra invisibile ha iniziato a svolgere un dissonante nenia.
Il coro ha cominciato a cantare in una sovrapposizione, scala discendente.
I riflettori si alzò, i cantanti ha cominciato a cantare:
Eravamo giovani, con i desideri della carne
Siamo stati coraggiosi, con una visione di gloria
Noi erano gentili, senza malizia
Vi eravamo stato, stato un tempo di vita
Vi unirete a noi nel canto eterno
L'Opera dei dannati
Vi unirete a noi nel canto eterno
L'Opera dei dannati

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Guilty Pleasure

Summer reading is, by definition, different from "serious reading" or whatever you may call the reading you do on the other 274 days of the year. Having already dispensed with my labor day chores, I found myself with an entire afternoon to descend into the morass of depravity otherwise known as a Carl Hiaasen novel. I had already read Sick Puppy (2000), and Skinny Dip (2004), so I knew exactly what mix I was getting into: bad men and licentious women in a ridiculous plot sprinkled with sporadic violence and gratuitous sex- all set in the sleazier side of South Florida. Perfect for the last day of summer.

Actually, in this, Hiaasen's 11th novel, the routine is pretty much set in stone (or is that coral?) but the result is still enjoyable. A description of the story is completely unnecessary- this is a YARN, not literature- but I found it most entertaining, in a cheap-thrills sort of way.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, September 07, 2009

Mondays in Iceland - #17

What little I've been able to discover about this house:

Evidently there was an "Oriental Art" craze in Iceland in the early part of the 20th century. No word on the existence of a hidden room in the onion, or if the ceiling is open above the penthouse.

Another place I'd love to live.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, September 04, 2009

New Kitty

Isn't she adorable? I installed the new OS on my MacBook last night, and everything went pur-r-rfectly. The installation actually freed up about 12 gigabytes of hard drive space, how often does a new version of anything take up less space than the previous?

"But how well does it perform?" you may ask.

I don't know.

I don't really know anything about computers, except the bare minimum to satisfy my needs. There are supposed to be all sorts of enhancements to various features, but I wouldn't be able to tell you what the features are, much less how they've been improved. iTunes? Never use it. iPhoto? I'll stick with CS4, one program which I actually understand a little. Spotlight? I don't ever recall looking for anything on my computer that I couldn't find in a couple of clicks. Swooping folders and stacks and Safari's 12 most popular websites in a "Hollywood Squares" array? Puh-leeze!

But everything does work, and works without me having to figure it out all the time. That's all I need.

Nice kitty.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Good Idea?

Wouldn't it be exciting to be able to see the
Professor hard at work in his piney lair,
carefully crafting yet another award-winning blog post?

Possibly not.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 5 

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

(A) Symmetry

The film Julie & Julia finally got me into a cinema for my annual summer flick. It seems as if I have seen a film starring Meryl Streep in a memorable role every summer for many years: Mamma Mia last year, The Devil Wears Prada before that, A Prairie Home Companion, The Hours, Adaptation, etc. In her portrayal of Julia Child, Meryl tops them all. Amy Adams does a convincing job as Julie Powell, a real-life blogger who attempts to cook all 500+ recipes in Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. The two stories are woven together in Nora Ephron's masterful screenplay and steady direction. The film's conceit may actually be a little too "neat", but in a summer of violent and/or dumb blockbusters I'll take it without complaint.

There's another symmetry in the film, a symmetry in the relationships of the two women with their spouses. This depiction is a most welcome change in a filmed drama. Men and women actually can co-exist in supportive harmony! Who'd a thunk it? There is some friction between Julie and her husband, but that is more about Julie's blogging mania (sound familiar to anyone out there?) than any disrespect or deceit. The two stories trace a similar arc, and the conclusion, which of course is no surprise to anyone, is nevertheless very satisfying. A wonderful film.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Great Googley-Moogley!

This makes my Icelandic world a whole lot bigger. It isn't perfect, but 70% of something is way better than 100% of nothing.


And thank you.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 6 

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