•17 February 2011 • 3 Comments

After referring a friend to an article I thought he might be interested in, he commented with the following:

Thanks for the link. How have you been? I’m graduating soon and I want to be as interesting as you are…how can I achieve this goal? ;-)

My first instinct was to respond with a Dos Equis reference, as I felt it might be most appropriate — particularly in light of the tongue-in-cheek interpretation the winking emoticon might suggest the question should be read in.  Then, in a slightly more reflective mood, I thought ‘What an odd question.’ Now, in light of a few days’ ponderance as per how to best either flippantly brush off the question or honestly answer it, I sit down to write a post in an effort to give it just and appropriate attention.

First then (assuming the original question is at least not entirely tongue-in-cheek), is to assess why my purported interestingness is worthy of emulation.  This, I assert, is a confluence of my decision to become Orthodox. In fact, this may well be the only aspect of me worthy of emulation. I maintain that while I may have been interesting even had I not chosen to become Orthodox, I am confident to say my interestingness would then not have been worth emulating — certainly not by good, upstanding gentlemen like that which asked me the originating question.

Now, lest this become a post on ‘why I became Orthodox’, let me summarise years of thought, intrigue and personal turmoil and simply say: I did not see Protestant nor Roman Catholic traditions sufficient to hold nor worthy of my prolonged attention, but did see in the Orthodox Church sufficient and abundant reason to stay within the Christian witness.

Next it seems best to list suggestions, in no particular order, which may help the enquirer emulate aspects of myself which I (quite arbitrarily) deem at least not uninteresting. It may also be worth noting, that I do not practice all the following with equal rigour.

1) Familiarise yourself with an ever-increasing stock of totally useless factuals. Read news, blogs, book jackets, Wikipedia, eavesdrop (have your ipod on silent, if it helps). Never anything which does not interest you, but stay safely without general necessity.

2) Make note of antiquated grammatical forms; expand your lexicon into the oblique; familiarise yourself within the range of language which may be understood, not just the sad prescriptive limits of normative speech patterns;–speak accordingly, adjust for audiences as needed.

3) Read the dictionary–esp. the ‘etymology’ sections on the OED.

4) On occasion, pick an item or class of items which you do not like. Learn to like it/them.

5) Know which categories are safe/ethical to transgress, colour outside the lines.

6) Listen.

7) Learn new things as though they were a science, practice them as though they were an art.

8) Remember that the music is always playing, sometimes it simply cannot be heard.

9) On periodic intervals, ask for suggestions from those more skilled/knowledgeable on how and where to expand. Grow a general knowledge about anything that is moderately interesting to you, so that you are able to at least loosely follow conversations among experts.

10) Respect others and their prerogative to be wrong; accept the fact that you often exercise that prerogative yourself.

11) Travel.

12) Attempt to be human at least once a day.


Well, my dear friend A., hopefully that helps answer your question. Best wishes as you prepare to graduate.

e ad ggg

•17 August 2010 • 2 Comments

ere at te dr was ave ee egectf fr se te w a ggg e aded as a sa sees ar t s strage w c cat e sad sg te rgt sde f te eard

ae ca sft te cd ad te ext st w e te ter af

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on hn bloin

•17 August 2010 • 1 Comment

h h y h, i h bn nlul o om im. no i m bloin on hn mll boy lp on my oh m. i i n ho muh n’ b i uin only h ih i o h kybo.

myb i n hi h hil n h n po ill b h oh hl.

ill n im,

visual asceticism

•2 June 2010 • 1 Comment

Yesterday it rained. This is not unusual for London. And, in preparation for moving from a land that knows no rain, to a land that knows some rain, I made sure to get sufficient supply of contacts. (N.b. I say ‘some’, because it is rare that it actually ‘rains’ in London, most times it is just ubiquitous damp falling.) (N.b.b. When I say ‘I made sure’ it is better to read ‘My loving wife made sure’.)

Yesterday, however, I was wearing my glasses in order to give my eyes a bit of a break. And, as I have already mentioned, it was raining. Not really raining, in the sense that any self-respecting rain storm would think of ‘rain’, but in the usual London fashion of ubiquitous damp falling in a generally downward manner. This being the case, I removed my glasses when traversing the damp city scape.

I am not blind, or at least not in the technical sense, and since even ‘colour blindness’ is sometimes referred to as being ‘colour vision impaired’, I am not blind at all. Anything past my elbow, however, is blurry. And so as I walked on the cobble stone through fuzzy patches of puddles and leaves, I felt wonderfully secluded.

Being cut off from the constancy of the flying simulacra and their battery of detailed contours and meanings lets one’s thoughts speak all the louder. And as yesterday was a grouchy day, most of my thoughts were banal and vain. I found it rather odd, almost pleasant, in a way, to hear each futility as though over a loud speaker and, not having the distraction of a nuanced visual scape, be able to address each in turn.


•18 May 2010 • 2 Comments

This is my hundredth post.

of lemons, curded and cheesed

•17 May 2010 • 1 Comment

As I am sure thousands of readers have been sitting on the edge of their chairs, waiting, hoping with bated breath for an update on the topic of Lemon Curd vs Lemon Cheese. I now bring good news of an answer.

We remember that there is commercially available both Lemon Curd and Lemon Cheese, even though they are, technically according to food authorities, the same thing. When going to buy some more Lemon Cheese, I asked the retail clerk what the difference was between their Lemon Cheese and Lemon Curd. She did not know, but a more veteran clerk offered the explanation that their Lemon Cheese was made with butter, while their Lemon Curd was made with margarine.

So there you go, folks, a taxonomical differentiation between Lemons Curd and Cheese. The first is made from margarine, the second from butter.

No wonder Lemon Cheese is better.

breathing the dust of our ancestors

•15 May 2010 • 1 Comment

On Thursday and Friday, I spent twelve hours in a dusty archive and eight hours commuting there and back.

Between the amount of pollen resident in the country air and the amount of dust in the archive stacks, my lungs (and sinuses) have felt the weight of generations coming and going.

Most of the stuff I’m dealing with in the archive is from the 1940s to 1980s, but some of it goes as far back as the 1880s, and the ancients and prehistory are not uncommon topics of discussion. Leafing through letters; lectures given to students, professional management, and the local church lady’s social; advertisements and brochures of leather, machinery, and the latest shoe fashions segregates oneself from the normal goings-on of the world. But history seen through the narrow lens of shoe trends still bares witness to the large movements of history. The coming and going of the Romans and Vikings are seen in the archaeological record of leather soles and iron tacks. The conflicts of church, state and the rising and falling of mediaeval feudal lords show up in sumptuary laws and the shoes carved in the tombs of the gentry. The English quelling of the Irish Rebellion of 1641 is testified to by a union of shoe makers complaining about not getting paid. And the clock ticks on through glossy catalogues of coronation attire, and post-war patriotism.

Every once in a while the real world, like that unwanted step child, steps in to say hello. I don’t speak German, but the Nazi letterhead and official bureaucratic seal needs no translation. A series of letters dated c. 1935 rested between the leather manufacturer’s sample booklet and a lady’s shoe catalogue. Half of me is curious to know what the Third Reich wanted from Northamptonshire shoe experts. Part of me is content to simply close the box and shuffle on, breathing the dust of friendlier generations.