Thursday, September 27, 2007

Verbing nouns

Lucky Mark was reading me an email he was writing so that I could act as his portable thesaurus. The email was full of such phrases as 'in order to progress this application' and 'we will action the document'.

"Why don't you use plain English?" I complained. "'Progress' and 'action' are nouns, not verbs."

"Everybody else does it," he pouted.

"That doesn't make it right," I echoed my mother's favourite admonishment. "What's wrong with saying, 'in order to take the application to the next stage'?"

"That takes too many words," he whinged. "'Progress' is faster to type and say."

"You can't use that excuse for 'action'," I countered. "'Act on' has one less letter!"

"But it has a space, so it's still the same number of keystrokes."

I give up.

There's no other word for it

Yes, she is.

Monday, September 24, 2007


I went with my friend the Neuroscientist to an exhibition of artworks based on microscopic slides created by researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute. The Neuroscientist makes beautiful images of rat neurons and I have talked to him in the past about my desire of making some of them into embroideries, so we were both interested to see how another artist had tackled the job.
I was glad I persuaded the Neuroscientist to come because he was able to recognise and explain what the artworks represented. We had a great conversation with the gallery manager about her son's schizophrenia and the brain's role in addiction in general, then we admired the artworks: three dimensional representations of cells and cellular structures created using beads, sequins, fabric and paint (even bubble wrap).
The structure on the right of the catalogue cover above, a blue and green spiral, was described by the gallery manager as perhaps being representative of DNA. After she had left us, I indicated my scepticism to the Neuroscientist, saying that it didn't look like a double helix at all. He, of course, immediately recognised it as an opiate receptor -- which, apparently, comes out of the cell wall, makes exactly seven turns (he called them something else, like "involutions" or something similar - I'm afraid I've forgotten the term he used) then reenters the cell through the cell wall.
The talk of DNA served to remind me of this website and its pattern for knitted DNA. One of these days...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pavarotti vale

"One of the very nicest things about life is that we must regularly stop what we are doing and devote our attention to eating." Luciano Pavarotti

I once embroidered this motto on a tablecloth, which I was coincidentally using the day I heard of the big Pav's death.

Other sayings on the same tablecloth are:

"He was a very valiant man who first adventured on eating of oysters." James I
"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Virginia Woolf
"In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." Carl Sagan
"There's no sauce in the world like hunger." Don Quixote
"A cucumber should be well sliced, dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing." Samuel Johnson (a man after my own heart.)
"A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety." Aesop
"Since Eve ate the apple, much depends on dinner." Lord Byron
"Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es." Anthelme Brillat-Savarin ("Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." Cheese, mostly, I think.)
"Talk of joy: there may be things better than beef stew and baked potatoes and home made bread -- there may be." David Grayson
"A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness." Elsa Schiaparelli
"I drink when I have occasion, and sometimes when I have no occasion." Don Quixote

Monday, September 03, 2007

The APEC effect

I ventured into the city this morning to go to the art gallery. Lucky Mark drove me in in the Big Red Car, and we were pleased to see that the threatened traffic chaos caused by road closures and the fencing off of a large swathe of public land did not really affect our route.
After a leisurely browse of the beautiful Translucent World exhibition of Chinese jade, I strolled back through the Domain and across Hyde Park to catch a bus home. In the Domain, I spotted a patrol of police officers (is that the correct collective noun?) comprised of six on foot and two leaning on the bonnet of a paddywagon. Seated dejectedly in the gutter was an immaculately dressed transvestite in a gorgeous pink miniskirt and matching jacket, with coordinating pink four-inch stilettos and handbag, her long, spray-tanned legs folded elegantly beneath her. It seemed rather a case of overkill -- the fresh-faced probationary constables who thought they would be protecting visiting dignitaries from feral protesters seemed rather bemused by their perfectly coiffed and not-at-all protesting quarry.
I saw another two patrols of police as I continued my walk through the park, as well as a fire engine with an Australian Federal Police car escort driving around the precinct in a sedate manner, and one of the converted bus/holding cells turning out of Macquarie Street. In all, about half of the vehicles I saw were related to law enforcement and security.
On the bus, the usual suspects hopped on and off. A young woman carried on an inane mobile phone conversation with a friend while fishing through her handbag with the other hand looking for correct change to pay the bus driver. I think I must be getting old, because I just wanted to say to her, "Look, I'm sure your friend will understand if you stop chatting about what you're going to wear tomorrow long enough to organise your bus fare, so we can all get home sooner." A man carrying a baby got on and paid the fare for himself and his female companion, who struggled to wrangle an empty pram onto the bus without folding it up. A woman with a comb-over sat in front of me: I am not sure what misfortune or illness had resulted in her hair loss, but somehow the hair around the back and sides of her head was still long and she had pulled it up into a knot on top of her head to cover the fluffy, thin growth that I could see through the sparse strands. I thought it was very clever of her to come up with that solution, although I think if it were me I would just shave it off and wear a scarf or hat. She was talking on her mobile phone about a job interview she was going to and what she was planning to say to convince them that she was the right candidate for the job. I hope she gets it.