December 31, 2005

There are always lessons to be learned

You know, when Nadia's here, I'm the healthful one; I insist on salads with dinner, organic foods, lots of water, and homemade lunches. While she's been in Mexico, for some reason, I've been a complete hog: takeout dinners, snacks and way too much coffee.

Last night it was the inevitable pit at the bottom of the downward dietary spiral: I ate a dinner of, of all things, Sun Chips and M&Ms. I had some treats in my grocery bag, and inadvertantly ate too many of 'em on the way home -- when I arrived, I found I wasn't hungry.

Granola and banana breakfast this morning didn't help. I feel rather, well, gross.

Happy new year!

December 26, 2005

Te extraño, mi amorcito...

My wife is visiting family in Monterrey for the holidays.

We have a typical relationship in that she's the one who likes to keep things in the apartment neat and orderly, and I have a slovenly side. So I was looking forward to relaxing on the military efficiency that normally governs our cleaning schedule. I never let the kitchen get out of hand -- food odours have always disgusted me. A newspaper on the sofa, however, does not drive me crazy. Where my backpack and shoes land after coming home is up to fate. Making the bed is not now, nor will it ever be, a priority.

In short, I approached the visit with a slice of sophomoric anticipation: of course I would miss her, but I was looking forward to having the apartment to myself for a few days.

It's been what, four days since she departed. Two of those days I spent with my family celebrating Christmas Eve and the Big Day itself. I've been home a total of 24 hours since her plane departed, 16 of those sleeping. Damned if I don't miss her markedly, already. And embarrassingly, the apartment has also managed to become a disaster in a very short time.

It hasn't devloved into high school style slobbery, but the order I've become used to has definitely suffered some. Clothes on the floor, books strewn everywhere, and the first signs of chaos are taking hold. I was planning on a day's cleaning on the eve of Nadia's return; I find myself thinking of a general clean instead of the opening game of the World Juniors. What the hell is up with that?

December 12, 2005

December 11, 2005

Dental woes (plural)

I recently had my first root canal -- while it wasn't all the painful hell I'd expected, it was far from pleasant. What I didn't know was, the entire content of a tooth's pulp getting cleaned out and replaced by plastic rods wasn't The Worst Part (TM). That lucky title comes several appointments later, and goes to the preparation for placing the crown upon said tooth.

Apparently, in about 25% of cases, there needs to be something called crown lengthening. Some people, like the young lady featured in the before and after pictures of this link, have crown lengthening performed on many teeth at once for esthetic reasons. I, like many root canal patients, needed it to prepare for crown placement.

You see, when I was a lad, I had many amalgam fillings placed in my molars. Of course, in the last ten years, they've posited that the mercury content in run-of-the-mill amalgam is cause for everything from kidney failure to parapsychotic episodes. (My wife, luckily, doesn't read Scientific American, or she'd probably be able to use all that silver in my mouth as grounds for divorce.)

Anyway, what they do is, they scalpel the meat perpendicular to the gumline for a few millimetres, the peel it away from the tooth. If that weren't enough, they then shave the jawbone to meet the contour of the tooth. After all of this, they sew the gum back together, minus that millimetre or two of flesh. Probably the most disconcerting parts of the procedure itself were aural: the sounds produced by the grinder and suction taking away bits of jaw-meat are nothing less than gruesome.

Here's a pretty extreme look at what I had done -- mine was only the width of one or two molars, with a single stitch to close it up. Still, under the bubble-gum pack that acts as a mouthal bandaid, this is what I have goin' on to the immediate stage right of my tongue.

Yay me!

December 3, 2005

Talented, but he was a mean little man

While I've never been much of a poetry aficionado, the life stories of these classic poets are almost all as fascinating as stink.

Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 - 21 May 1744)

As far as being a successful writer goes, Pope was born to all kinds of disadvantage. His father was a cloth merchant in London; although the family was certainly not poor, Pope was always ashamed of his family's lack of gentility -- reports differ as to his father's status, with some saying he was merely a salesman.

In an England of extreme anti-Catholic sentiment, both Pope's parents were Catholic -- this meant substandard schooling for the most part. Pope was taught to read by an aunt, and given lessons in both Greek and Latin by Taverner, a Romish priest. Catholic schools were allowed to exist in some places; At Twyford, where he wrote his first vicious satire, about the school master, he was summarily "whipped and ill-used", and thus only lasted a year. Around 1700, when Pope was still a pre-teen, a statute forbade Catholics from living in or near London or Westminster. The Popes moved to Binfield in Berkshire, from whence Pope became self-taught.

As well, he suffered from health problems, including a form of TB that deformed his spine and made him a physical pariah as well. He never exceeded 1.4 m (about 4'6"), nor did he ever marry. He was wracked with migraines for most of his life.

Despite his youth, he was introduced to the London literary set around 1704 by William Wycherley, a well-connected but only somewhat successful poet of the day. His first public accolades stemmed from Pastorals, published in 1709. In 1711, An Essay on Criticism brought him a lot of attention, and The Rape of the Lock, his most popular and enduring work, was published the following year.

He was exceedingly nasty in his work, and along with Jonathan Swift was considered to be the primary critical eye of his time. Pope regularly slammed people publicly, as often naming them explicitly as using pseudonyms. The most interesting work in my opinion was 1728's The Dunciad, a piece written as a what he called a "satire on Dulness", that very powerfully blasted many popular writers. He extended his metaphor -- of dull conversation, writing and thought at battle with reason and intelligence -- into a parody of the Aenid (which itself is the Latin answer to the Greek Odyssey).

Like in those classical epics, a great contest is held to find the greatest hero -- in this case, the writer who can urinate most powerfully. Eliza Haywood, who enjoys a resurgence of respect today, but was considered by "real" writers to be pedestrian at best, is offered as a prize: The winner will receive Eliza ". . . a Juno of majestic size / With cow-like-udders, and with ox-like eyes" (II 155-6). Some have suggested her treatment by Pope led to a reduction in her creative output; still others have postulated his rough hand was inspired by a crush of sorts. Either way, he seems a petty little man to me. Full portents of The Dunciad

Pope's fame was secured by his translations of The Odyssey and The Iliad -- he was reportedly the first British poet able to survive on royalties alone (with no prince or earl necessary to keep, sponsor or employ him).

In about 1713, Pope formed the Scriblerus Club with Swift, John Gay, John Arbuthnot and Thomas Parnell. I'd like to read more about them -- they sound like an interesting bunch, sort of a precursor to Dorothy Parker's Vicious Circle. They wrote a piece or two under the collaborative pseudonym Martinus Scriblerus.

Pope lived and worked in Twickenham for the last 27 years of his life. He continued to publish until his death in 1744; he died on his 56th birthday.