(mostly) daily photoblog

Posts tagged “Words

Shadows make things interesting

…even when the message is not that interesting.

I caught this one this morning.  The sun was actually shining and we had blue sky all day in Jakarta.  That makes no sense to my experience as of late, so it was nice to see the anomaly of nice weather.

By the way, the message above is, ‘Don’t dump your garbage in this gutter.’  Without the shadows, it’s just another warning.



One of the dangers of writing your own signs is that you might think that you’ve written something one way, while someone else may read it differently.  When I placed the words in Google Translate, exactly as they are phrased here – anjing di larang be rak di sini – it came back with, ‘Shelves prohibited here’, with the message, ‘Did you mean Anjing dilarang berak di sini?  This means that ‘dogs are prohibited from pooping here.’  That’s a pretty big difference.  One way, extra storage is outlawed.  The other way?  No pooping.

I’m pretty sure that the writer of this sign is trying to say that he doesn’t want dogs to poop down this alley, but maybe he has a thing against shelving.

Photo Friday: Detail(ed)

This little detail is highlighted by the fact that it is the only detail on the page with any detail.

Heavens to Betsy! (Photo Friday is Tall)

I don’t know what “Heavens to Betsy” means, but I saw this last night and thought those words.  Then I realized that I may have thought  a phrase that my mother, maybe grandmother, would have said.  I don’t say words like that.  I don’t think words like that.  I don’t even know people who speak like that.

Anyway, the heavens looked pretty impressive, so I snapped the photo.  My favorite part of this shot is the streetlight, already lit, against the sky.

By the way, Photo Friday this week is “Tall” so I think this counts.


I’m not sure how I missed this photo, but back in October I had the privilege of taking forty students to Vancouver to the Writer’s Festival.  While there, I witnessed an amazing poet:  Zaccheus Jackson.  He was born an addict, a product of Canada’s foster child program, a former addict and convict and now a voice for taking life for what it is:  amazing.  Not beautiful all the time.  Not painless.

His poems were brilliant if not manic and restless.  There was a graceful, elegant quality to his words, even as he spits them out, rapid-fire.  He spoke truths of a life that none of my students had witnessed before.  One of his poems pointed to the grace of an eagle, only to be surprised by the graceful eagle’s mistake of trying to take on more than it should have.  The poem is here, but a short word of warning:  it has some inappropriate language.

What he speaks of is wings.  What he lives is a life that has been offered grace, for which he is grateful.

Panoramagnifabulousity! (WordPress Photo Challenge)

The saying goes:  “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Sometimes a picture is worth one word, made up of four other words.  Wouldn’t you agree?

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is “Wonder” and I figured that, by slapping together three photos, I could recreate the “wonder” I felt while hanging around Cultus Lake yesterday.


As skinny as a rail…

… is pretty skinny.  I was thinking, as I processed this photo, of all of the phrases that we use that involves “rail”.  Here’s a few of my favorites:

1.  “As skinny as a rail.”  I once knew a guy who was 6’5″ and about 155 pounds.  I watched him swing a bowling ball into the side of his knee and nearly incapacitate himself.  He was skinny.  We used to joke that if he ever broke a limb, we could just hold him up to the light and check on it.

2.  “It drives like it’s on rails.”  I’ll be honest.  I remember this from the movie “Pretty Woman”.  Julia Roberts is an unlikely hooker who meets Richard Gere, who can’t drive his Lotus at all.  Apparently he was never taught to drive standard.  Sad.  Anyway, she gets in and shows him how to drive his car (no pun intended).  I need to make sure that I include that I watched this movie on DVD and very much against my will.  I think my wife made me watch it.  I will never get those two hours back.

3.  “Ride him out on a rail.”  I don’t know what this means, but it seems to mean sending someone away against their will.  Sounds like a phrase I should use more often.

Do you have any favorites?


Ooh…water lilies. Wait…another lily photo?

Here’s another shot of the pond with the water lilies.  I have written pond, but it really requires quotation marks.  It’s a man-made pond in the center of Chilliwack, BC.  It has a big fountain in the middle, more ducks and duck sh*t (which I guess comes with the ducks) than you can imagine.  It’s next to the library and a big hotel.  And it’s a “pond”.  Yeah, that looks better.



Which words motivate you?

These words are on a chalkboard in the entrance to my house.  I don’t look at them often enough.  I’m an English teacher and words have been my mistress for a long time.  I love the feel of certain words when spoken; I love the sound of a word when it meets my ear.  I love when I learn a word in another language and have to move my tongue in an awkward way to make it sound right.  What I love most, however, is when words can evoke a pure, inspirational emotion in the heart of the listener.

“I am proud of you.”

“I love you.”

“You make me happy.”

“You’re amazing.”

I bought a bunch of Magnetic Poetry kits – one for my fridge (I’ve made my kids write a poem each to be excused from the table); one for the entrance of the house; one for the vintage fridge door I have in my classroom.

What’s funny is that I wrote these phrases, in the photo above, but they still inspire me and start my day in a more positive way.

What inspires you?

BTW, Happy Birthday Mom!

Word Association: this makes you think of what?

I’m quite certain this is some guy’s name, or maybe the name of a graffiti crew, but it makes me think of one thing:  Noam Chomsky.  When I saw it on the concrete highway support, I thought that some student of media and communications, or maybe a linguistics students.  Then I realized that it didn’t actually say “Chomsky” – it says CHOMtcki or something.  Too bad, seeing as how Chomsky was a student of language and communication.  When I saw this my mind went back to the first time I watched “Manufacturing Consent” and how outraged I was at how mass media twists and manipulates, often through the simplest means like inclusion vs. exclusion, the popular opinion on major issues.  It was through Chomsky I first came across the plight of the East Timorese and the lack of coverage of their problems with Indonesia.  I also thought back to my earliest years in university when I first started reading Chomsky’s work.

It is kind of weird, however, to see what came to my mind through a mistake in reading.  This got me thinking: how much of what I read is what is actually written and how much of my experience while reading is a direct result of where my mind goes while I’m reading?  How much is a result of my own experience that, while it may be somewhat non sequitur to the reading material, shapes my understanding of what I read, of how I see the world.  If a misread word can conjure up memories of my earliest years in post-secondary academia, what happens when I read things properly?  I have taught introductory psychology courses and I know, basically, how my brain works.  I also know that both “nature and nurture” play a big part in how I have become who I am today.  But what if the way I see the world is entirely different from the way you see the world, but we both believe that we see it the same way because we only have the vocabulary we share to make sense of it?  Words would, then, make our ability to express our experiences less personal and more communal, thus bringing us together when our own perception is moving us apart.


Maybe I need some sleep.

I don’t know what it says. Do you?

I am a lexophile.  I love words.  I love learning new words.  I love crossword puzzles, when I have the time, which is nearly never.  I love using a lovely or antiquated or cryptic word in a sentence only to notice that no one near me understands.  I love having someone say, “Well, if that’s what it means, why didn’t you just say that in the first place?”  I’ll tell you why.

I love the sound of a word.  It may mean the same thing as a more pedestrian word, but the more pedestrian the word, the more insipid it tastes and sounds.  In a time when the best imperative words are seen as bossy, when spelling seems to be under attack, when Twitter only allows me 140 characters, I take refuge in a nice, possibly polysyllabic, impossible-to-define in a word, word.

Here’s ten of my favorites (in no particular order):

1.  Queue (because it’s where I spend too much of my life).

2.  Antithetical (because I’m not living if I’m going along with everyone else).

3.  Aesthetic (because beauty can bring me to my knees) .

4.  Counterintuitive (because it is a route by which many people have found genius) .

5.  Feckless (because it describes too many people I know).

6.  Ennui (because it describes the state I wish to avoid).

7.  Altruism (because it’s what I’m striving for).

8.  Loquacious (because it describes me).

9.  Pulchritudinous (because it sounds exactly like what it is not).

10.  Voluptuous (because it sounds exactly like what it is).

Please feel free to post your favorite words here.  I love learning new words almost as much as I like using them.

Oh, and those of you wondering where this is all coming from?  I couldn’t read the word in the graffiti I’ve posted above, so I thought I’d talk about language.  Good enough?  I hope so.