30 November 2012

what are you going to call it?

A few months after I moved to Alfred, toward the end of 2009, I bought a 2001 Subaru Forester from the proverbial lady who'd had it since she bought it new and which had been maintained by Collins (my brother's regular mechanic) since she bought it. It was Royal Blue and just had to be named after my mother whose favorite color was blue. Her full name (the Forester, that is) was Frances P. Forester but her nickname was Fanny. And, yes, I did enjoy the play on fanny.

Fanny went to Collins for an oil change and look at the power steering a few weeks ago. The framework for the power steering and the back supporting members showed significant enough rust, and inspection was coming up in December, that the Collins said it wouldn't be worth repairing the rusted out bits. Sadly, Fanny was taken to pasture, being in this case retirement to my brother's stable of vehicles to serve as a parts car for Jeanette's 2002 Forester and a stick-shift training ground for my nephew who is now permitted.

Meanwhile, I drove the Blazer from the stable as I thought about what to do next. I wanted a simple car and dreamed of the Fiat Cinquecento. I spent a Saturday with Rachel in Rochester doing test drives. The Fiat was just as cute as could be but it really is small. The column behind your left shoulder is fat because there's an airbag in it. It causes a bit of a blind spot. Though the steering was tight, the stick-shift throw was not. On to the Honda dealer. They didn't have a stick-shift Fit so I test drove an automatic. It was a competent car and gets high ratings but it didn't thrill. On to the Toyota dealer to look at a Yaris. They had a white 2010 Yaris stick-shift with only 17K miles and it was a dream to drive, zippy, really nice short stick-shift throw. I talked to the salesman and they've gunked up the dashboard. The 2010 dash is beautifully simple; it's been turned into a space ship control panel in the current model.

I spent Saturday evening until Monday morning weighing the Fiat versus the Yaris and hadn't reached any conclusion. It would be nice to have a car with a local dealer so I went over to test drive a Ford Fiesta and it rather answered all of the dilemmas. The basic S model is simple. The stick shift was fun to drive. The steering was tight. The gas mileage is pretty good. So ... you guessed it. I settled on the Fiesta. But what was I going to call it?

The Fiesta was black and I was still enthralled with the Fiat so I thought about Franco Nero but he's not an actor that I am especially familiar with or enamored of. Giulietta? I also looked at the new Dodge Dart which is based on the Giulietta by Alfa Romeo, and I love Giulietta Masina. Other names swirled about but I guess I figured it needed to be Spanish, as in fiesta.

Hieronymus Bosch has always (as always as possible) been one of my favorite artists. The Spaniards call him El Bosco but the Prado website uses Hieronymus as his forename. More swirling thoughts. In my rough (9th grade was my only study of the language) Spanish, I came up with Hieronymus, el Bosco de la Fiesta. I checked with Elizabeth who speaks English, Spanish, and Hungarian (and probably more) and she looked at me as if I had said "the cow who jumped over the moon." I explained how the Spaniards call the painter El Bosco, the Bosch deriving from his living in 's-Hertogenbosch (or den Bosch or Bois-le-Duc or the duke's woods). She said it was just weird but at least it wasn't vulgar. You might have La Fiesta en el Bosque (the fiesta in the woods). As a matter of fact, googling that will get you 19 million responses including a Gran Fiesta en el Bosque sponsored by the Fundación Global Nature.

Anyway, meet Hieronymus, el Bosco de la Fiesta.

10 November 2012

taking notes

About a month ago, Beth Johnson spoke at the Bergren Forum on "The social psychology of learning styles and its implications for pedagogy." I haven't ever studied education as a discipline though I had certainly heard of visual or verbal learners. One of the special things I carried away from her talk was that my inveterate note taking (some might say scribbling and doodling) was reaffirming (or elaborating, as she said) what the speaker said. I was naturally taking notes as she spoke. I was converting (repeating) her spoken words as written.

In the New York Times for November 7th, there's an article entitled "Note-taking's past, deciphered today" by Jennifer Schuessler. She's reporting on a conference that concluded a four-year initiative at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Lots of interesting stuff in the article including an anecdote about Peter Burke who sent students out from his classes at the University of Cambridge for note-taking. Clearly, they were being inattentive to his lecture. There was a conference panel on comparisons between note-taking and compulsive hoarding. Guilty, as charged.

The picture is by Charlie Mahoney for the Times and appears in the article. It's described in the paper merely as "a copy of Shakespeare's 'Othello'."

The Bergren Forum is, by the way, one of the delights of living in Alfred. Every Thursday at 12:10 pm, someone speaks about something. It's as varied as you can imagine for a liberal arts college. From GIS to African music, learning styles to quarks, butterflies to student trips in Eastern Europe.


blogged about the Shermaniana exhibit we did at the Amon Carter in 1994, a gift to Milan Hughston for April Fool's Day. Janine Henri suggested that I should do an online version so I've been posting Shermaniana on Tumblr at http://shermaniac.tumblr.com/ for a while. As the caption says, I get distracted and post other stuff. If you haven't tried Tumblr, it's very easy to reblog something.

Wednesday's New York Times had a picture of voters at the Center School in Sherman Township, Iowa. I couldn't find the picture in the online version so you'll have to take my word for it.

The picture of this street sign was taken in Meadville, Pennsylvania when I went out there to see a show in February 2010.