Saturday, March 31, 2018

On researching my Irish patronyms

This blogpost evolved in response to some comments on a Facebook West Cork Genealogy site. One woman insisted that the variations in patronym spelling, was because everyone was illiterate and only went to school a few days of their lives, because they had to work on the farm—back in the day. Another poster assumed the clerks were just too lazy to add those pesky apostrophes. Not necessarily so.

Good Friday translation rant, aka an odd insomnia cure

I awoke 4 AM, with a blinding headache, from pulling recalcitrant honeysuckle vines from the engulfed Meyer lemon tree. I was in dire pain and the Advil hadn't yet kicked in, so there I was, with full-on insomnia, resurrecting my rusty Irish translation skills on a Facebook genealogy site. Perfect thing to do on the aftermath of Good Friday, no?

It's almost impossible to resurrect the meaning of Irish placenames as they've been Englishified and phoneticized to death. The English attempt to destroy a language. With no small thanks to the Royal Engineers and the 1833 Ordnance Survey. Irish playwright Brian Friel's play,Translations, tackles the systematic disembowelment of the Irish language by the English hellbent on cultural imperialism. But sometime enough of the original ghost Irish remains behind to see the meaning behind a placename.

Friday, March 30, 2018


Well, Doctor, I don't know where the eggs come from,
and I have no idea why I feel a compulsion to hide them.
And this year, some April fools are yelling White Rabbit!
I'm not sure how I feel about that. Go ask Alice, he said.
And no, I am not sleeping with the chickens.


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Putting the grant to bed

Didn't sleep at all last night, too keyed up with grant writing. I came home & crashed—only to be wakened by a phonecall at 10PM, I thought it was time to get up again? Now what? Exhausted doesn’t even cover it. At least I managed to nod off again around midnight, and scored 12 hours sleep! Since I average 6 hours per night, that’s a grand slam. Grant to bed. Me to bed too. Recovery is Act III. Salmon and wine on the horizon.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Updating old technology for tax season: The horror! The horror!

I'm about to upgrade to El Capitán/High Sierra, as my trusty Mac OS companion of 8.5 years, Snow Leopard, is no longer long of tooth, but bereft of any pearly whites whatsoever. The latest discovery that the Intel chip has a back door, much to the delight of Hackers Anon, means every technological agency is tightening up bootstraps in order to stick their big toes (and cocks—whatever is largest) to shoal up the wall of data vulnerability.

And in turn, data service providers are also tightening things up. This translates to my web browser Firefox being no longer upgradeable, Safari  5 is next to useless, having long since lost The Great Browser Race. I can't even load a Daily Kos petition because my browser's too old and therefore "vulnerable." I can see tighter security needed if I'm actually donating money (I'm not), but to fill out a petition? And who knew that MacWorld articles were top secret documents FYEO fergawdsakes? (For your eyes only.)

Then there's the new and improved software: take TurboTax. Ah, yes, the tax season rears its ugly head, and shoves it up yer arse looking for fool's gold. That's the litmus I use to update software. When I need to load TurboTax. That's how I updated another hard drive to Mountain Lion, and later, to Mavericks.

Suffice to say, I hated both Mountain Lion, and Mavericks, but I managed to convince TurboTax to play nicely on my MacBook, so I could file my taxes. Sort of. (BTW, TurboTax did not require such stringent hoops for Windows users during this time. And we KNOW how vulnerable Windows is. My partner has an old PC laptop with a crusty virus-ridden version of Windows that still runs TurboTax. What's with that?)

So, after I purchased this year's version of TurboTax, I read the FINE PRINT. Minuscule. Unreadable without a microscope, or #2 readers, whatever's handiest. Minimum system requirements, written in 6 point white type on grey background: such secretive minimum operating system requirement: OS 10.11. Whoa, Nellie! That's El Capitán. O Captain! My Captain! Decapitate me now.

We went from the rogue sneaker waves of Mavericks, that's OS 10.9 to you, to the heights of Machu Pucchu, I mean—that mile-high monolith, that sheer granite wall of El Capitán, AKA OS 10.11, that has challenged so many climbers—in one fell swoop? In one year? What happened to OS 10.10? Holy crappy crampons! The Krampus came late this year. Or he came back for seconds.

So, (remembering to breathe), I took a shot, and steeled my nerves. I girded my loins, and began to upgrade a hard drive to El Capitán. After more than an hour of upgrading, it worked swimmingly. Until it didn't. This I found out after I went two OS'es further down the plankety-plank road to perdition, to the holiest grail of OS of time present—High Sierra, AKA OS 10.13. Lucky 13, it wasn't. I was locked out. Epic password fail. Black screen. Spinning cursor of death. Random restarts. Complete disappearance of the Finder. Again. And again. And again.

So I spent an entire day (and most of the next day too), trying to coax two fussy operating systems to play nicely on my souped-up 2011 MacBook. I learned some things. New tricks, old dawg. I practiced deep rebuilds and even deeper cleanses. I gnashed my teeth. I invented new portmanteaus swearwords. Corrupted kext files? I found combo update fixes. Suffice to say, El Capitán is now working. Or at least, I can load it. I haven't even opened TurboTax. Too exhausted. I'm afraid to even restart High Sierra.

Ah, well, there's always next year.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Night heron on the Petaluma River, photo

Night heron. He’s no singing canary. I told him not to give up his day job. With a voice like that, he could wind up in Sing-sing. The song of his people is somewhere between an Edgar Allen Poe inspired death rattle, and someone being vigorously strangled. Looks can be deceiving. He’s got a long neck stuffed underneath that feather ruff. Like a jack in the box. Otherwise, he’d starve to death as his beak couldn't reach the ground.

  • NOTE: THIS POST ALONG WITH 12 OTHER POSTS WAS ERRONEOUSLY REMOVED BY BLOGGER FOR VIOLATING COMMUNITY STANDARDS ON 5/14/21. It was reinstated as a draft the next day. I am still pissed off.

Thursday, March 1, 2018



My heart on a string
tugging the heartstrings
of the sky
but the pen no longer writes

my heart….

Archer and arrow pierces


The corona of the sun
shone like a diamond ring.
we could see the mountains
of the moon.

The moon passed in front of the sun
it was as if time stood still.

I'd never witnessed 
an eclipse like that
and when night fell
again in the morning
the birds they all
stopped singing
and so did the tide.
All was still.
Fish slept in my arms
like pale autumn leaves
their gills, small half-moons
Moon and stars, the sky
was one vast quilt of stars
and then the corona
burst into petals.
I was looking at 
vast tongues of fire licking
the sky.
It was as if…

we could see the mountains
of the moon.
The corona of the sun
shone like a diamond ring.


in the sky
and my dreams
are like thorns
in the book
of memory

the petals
they shine
like gold
in the sun

and my heart 
is like kite

cone flower
stem grows
to the earth


May the bluebird of happiness
fly fly fly
wing wing wing
fly fly fly
tail tail tail
feathers feathers feathers
delicate toes legs
delicate toes legs
up your nose
and may your nose
fly off into the sunset.

I'm not sure when these concrete poems were done, at Glenview School, possibly spring 2018.