Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Too Late Christmas List

I opted not to make a Christmas list this year. But now that it is almost here, I am wishing I had. HOWEVER, I DID receive a Target gift card, so I am already perusing the website for those things I need/want. Here are ten things that SHOULD have been on my list.

1) A coat (with a hood)

2) A wallet (as opposed to just keeping my ID, debit, and credit cards floating in my purse)

3) A pair of black flats (that don't smell like my feet yet)

4) Spare bedding (to encourage me to wash it more often)

5) Storage for craft supplies (to rescue the floor of my craft closet)

6) A lamp (because my living room has no overhead lighting)

7) Luggage (because the stupid thieves used mine to steal our stuff)

8) Flip flops (since the ones I have are five years old)

9) A toaster oven (so I don't keep burning my polymer creations in the big oven)

10) Books (because it's been too long since I met a new paperback friend)

Not totally sold on any of these, and who knows- I might actually have one of these needs fulfilled without needing to spend my precious gift card. And of course I don't have enough to buy ALL of these. But it's good to have options!

Friday, December 10, 2010

That Which Is Untranslatable

The following blog post is actually from here. I don't pretend to have written it. But you should totally look at these words. I love them all!


There are at least 250,000 words in the English language. However, to think that English – or any language – could hold enough expression to convey the entirety of the human experience is as arrogant of an assumption as it is naive.
Here are a few examples of instances where other languages have found the right word and English simply falls speechless.

1. Toska
Russian – Vladmir Nabokov describes it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”

2. Mamihlapinatapei
Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start” (Altalang.com)

3. Jayus
Indonesian – “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh” (Altalang.com)

4. Iktsuarpok
Inuit – “To go outside to check if anyone is coming.” (Altalang.com)

5. Litost
Czech – Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, remarked that “As for the meaning of this word, I have looked in vain in other languages for an equivalent, though I find it difficult to imagine how anyone can understand the human soul without it.” The closest definition is a state of agony and torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.

6. Kyoikumama
Japanese – “A mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement” (Altalang.com)

7. Tartle
Scottish – The act of hestitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name. (Altalang.com)

8. Ilunga
Tshiluba (Southwest Congo) – A word famous for its untranslatability, most professional translators pinpoint it as the stature of a person “who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.” (Altalang.com)

9. Prozvonit
Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money. In Spanish, the phrase for this is “Dar un toque,” or, “To give a touch.” (Altalang.com)

10. Cafuné
Brazilian Portuguese – “The act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.”

11. Schadenfreude
German – Quite famous for its meaning that somehow other languages neglected to recognize, this refers to the feeling of pleasure derived by seeing another’s misfortune. I guess “America’s Funniest Moments of Schadenfreude” just didn’t have the same ring to it.

12. Torschlusspanik
German – Translated literally, this word means “gate-closing panic,” but its contextual meaning refers to “the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages.”

13. Wabi-Sabi
Japanese – Much has been written on this Japanese concept, but in a sentence, one might be able to understand it as “a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.”

14. Dépaysement
French – The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.

15. Tingo
Pascuense (Easter Island) – Hopefully this isn’t a word you’d need often: “the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.”

16. Hyggelig
Danish – Its “literal” translation into English gives connotations of a warm, friendly, cozy demeanor, but it’s unlikely that these words truly capture the essence of a hyggelig; it’s likely something that must be experienced to be known. I think of good friends, cold beer, and a warm fire.

17. L’appel du vide
French – “The call of the void” is this French expression’s literal translation, but more significantly it’s used to describe the instinctive urge to jump from high places.

18. Ya’aburnee
Arabic – Both morbid and beautiful at once, this incantatory word means “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.

19. Duende
Spanish – While originally used to describe a mythical, spritelike entity that possesses humans and creates the feeling of awe of one’s surroundings in nature, its meaning has transitioned into referring to “the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person.” There’s actually a nightclub in the town of La Linea de la Concepcion, where I teach, named after this word.

20. Saudade
Portuguese – One of the most beautiful of all words, translatable or not, this word “refers to the feeling of longing for something or someone that you love and which is lost.” Fado music, a type of mournful singing, relates to saudade.

Fake Christmas Shopping

Finishing your presents early is probably the smarter thing to do. HOWEVER, it also comes with two major downsides: 1) You become incapable of waiting to give the gift until Christmas 2) You find so many other cool things for those people between now and Christmas.

Today I present to you a fake shopping trip. As for me, I'm pretty much done with everybody, so no one will be getting these gifts. But if I had the money... then yes they would.

For Bethany:
Electronic Bubble Wrap! Great stress relief. And super classy.

For Brad:
A stainless steel Sharpie! I always borrow his Sharpies. And this one is just cooler.

For Dad: Perfectly Engineered Skipping Stones! He's the best skipper I know and with these he would be unstoppable!

And for me...

I wish these shirts weren't so expensive. They are so cool. True classic nerd wear. Book nerd at least.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Ups and Downs of Today

The up: Gathering supplies for a cool craft project for tonight
The down: Super glue NOT being super and removing my fingerprints

The down: Got the mail and there was nothing for me
The up: Dad called and I got mail from Natalie at the house in Wisconsin

The up: Jeff got up early
The down: I got up late

The up: Wore my awesome conductor pants
The down: A baby ninja kicking my knee with his paint covered foot

The down: An Old Mother Hubbard's Cupboard
The up: Remembering the leftover popcorn from the abandoned garland project

The up: Giving a well appreciated gift
The down: Having to make several absurdly specific new gifts

The up: Diet Orange Soda downstairs
The down: Going downstairs four times and forgetting the Diet Orange Soda every time

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dionysian All The Way

This guy knows his stuff. The first part of the video showcases some of the houses he's made, but then he starts talking about the philosophical ideas underlying those designs. It's great. Watch it if you have the time. (Dad, I especially think you might like this.)