Words


Warning: The audio on this video is NOT work-friendly

I have a distinct memory of Mrs., Giles, my elementary school speech therapist, asking my parents to not help me with my lessons.

My parents, you see, grew up outside of Boston, where while Rs are an issue, so are vowels. For example, the O in dog and doll makes sort of an aaahhhh sound in actual English, while it makes an aaawwww sound in the Boston area.

That might have actually been my first parents-vs.-teacher episode as well, but that's not what I've gotten out of it.

One of my — hmm, I don't know if it qualifies as a guilty pleasure so much as a curiosity — is understanding where in the mouth to make sounds. In English, T is made with the tongue very much against the back of both sets of teeth most of the time, while in Spanish, the T is made above the top teeth, though not as far up as an English D. The Spanish D on the other hand, is made somewhat in between the teeth, like an English TH.

Given enough time listening to someone and looking at their mouth, I can imitate if not their full accent, at least the way they say some words.

One of my other curiosities is words that accidentally sound the same. Listen to Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha for a while in the video above.

The line is "Some of those who run forces / are the same who burn crosses" (a reference to racist police officers). I'm not sure if it's intentional or not (I'm guessing not), but sometimes during the song, de la Rocha will match the Os, which makes "forces" sound like "farces."

Interestingly, force and farce have been with us a really long time. Both derive from Latin, and both worked their way through Middle French and Middle English to remain with us.

Is this too much of a nerd moment for 5:30 a.m.? Maybe, I dunno. How about you? Do you have any super-geeky habits I should know about?

Slideshow: Jonathan & Amanda, 23.08.2008


Jonathan and Amanda share their first dance as husband and wife in this mobile photo.

Jonathan and Amanda got married yesterday afternoon at the lovely Putney Inn. They were kind and wise enough to sit me with a lovely young couple who enjoy things like bike paths and downtown development.

Here's a short audio slideshow from the wedding.

If you're curious, I download music for these slideshows from Jamendo, where all songs are available under some Creative Commons license or other – the songs are free, so long as you credit the artists, and in some cases the licenses allow you to create derivative works or use the songs for commercial purposes.

Slideshow: Jonathan & Amanda, 23.08.2008


Jonathan and Amanda share their first dance as husband and wife in this mobile photo.

Jonathan and Amanda got married yesterday afternoon at the lovely Putney Inn. They were kind and wise enough to sit me with a lovely young couple who enjoy things like bike paths and downtown development.

Here's a short audio slideshow from the wedding.

If you're curious, I download music for these slideshows from Jamendo, where all songs are available under some Creative Commons license or other – the songs are free, so long as you credit the artists, and in some cases the licenses allow you to create derivative works or use the songs for commercial purposes.

Obama’s big text message flop

When Barack Obama announced a couple of weeks ago that he would make sure his supporters were among the first to know when he selected a running mate, my initial thought was, hey, cool, someone's using available technology well.

Eventually, curiosity caught up with me, and yesterday I signed up to get my text message.

The idea here was that anyone who signed up on Obama's list would be among the first to know his choice. To make people feel like they were on the inside of the campaign.

Ha.

Obama's choice started leaking around midnight Eastern last night, and the text message came at 3:13 a.m.

Even on the west coast, you had to be up pretty late to be among the first to know, and if you were on the east coast, you actually could have found out more than an hour and a half before you got your text message.

By the time I woke up (and I get up pretty early), it didn't matter if I checked my text messages, The NY Times, CNN, WaPo, LAT or the Trib.

In short, by electing to cap the late-night leaks with a 3 a.m. message, Obama's campaign effectively skipped letting people on the inside.

Yes, we knew that his choice would show up on Web sites of major news outlets within minutes of the text message being sent out, but the fact that some people are going to learn this in the newspaper (I'm guessing the west coast papers managed to squeeze it into their print editions) around the same time people are getting their text messages, really defeats the purpose.

What should have happened is that a text message should have arrived at 11 a.m., or 2 p.m., or 5 p.m., when people are in the middle of things – going about their days. If everyone stops what they're doing to talk about the text message they just got, that's a measure of success for something like this.

Let the creekwalk grow – and connect it to the trail path!


The creekwalk crosses a small bridge next to a stage at Syracuse's Inner Harbor, then continues for another quarter mile or so, before ending at, well, nowhere.

I often find my favorite news is buried way down in the newspaper. Like the story on the back of today's B section, a page frequently reserved entirely for the weather, that lets us know the creekwalk is going to get an extension – all the way to the lake!

If you haven't been on the small path along Onondaga Creek, you're probably not alone. Not only is it not exactly the most well-publicized public walkway the city has to offer, you kind of have to look for it. For my part, I've found it by accident.

If you walk downtown on Fayette Street frp, the Warehouse toward Armory Square, you cross a little bridge over running water. That's Onondaga Creek.

If you start following that north (you have to be a little clever about it, unfortunately), eventually you wind up in Franklin Square, walking at creek level (below the street). It's quite nice, actually, despite the fact that the creek isn't the cleanest body of water on the planet.

Eventually your walk along the creek ends for a moment, and you have to cross a street, walk about 50 yards up the road, then turn north on a walkway through a park before crossing Court Street to get to the Inner Harbor.

People who have read the blog for a while know I'm a fan of the Inner Harbor, not just for the fact that there are events there, but also because I can walk down on a nice day and flop in the grass with a book.

You can follow the creekwalk along the harbor, by the stage, and then under Bear Street on a nice, quiet paved path.

And then it just stops.

You're pretty much left with the option to either stare straight ahead in confusion, or turn around and go back from whence you came.

Where it stops, you're more or less at Hiawatha Boulevard, not at all far from Onondaga Lake.

Between Hiawatha and the lake, though, are train tracks owned by CSX railroad.

CSX recently gave permission for the a covered walkway under its tracks, so now they can build the creekwalk across Hiawatha, northwest to the lake. I'm sure that will make the Pyramid Cos. happy, too, because that leaves people at Carousel Center.

Here's where I get a little more excited.

Zoom out on this a little bit, and you'll realize that you're at the southeast tip of Onondaga Lake. To your right, you would swing up around on Onondaga Lake Parkway to get to Onondaga Lake Park. To your left, you would forage around next to I-690 to where the Shore Trail Bike Path ends.

This is the key point to tying the two parts of the bike path together in a second place, making it a loop.

Right now, you can park at Onondaga Lake Park, ride 2.5 miles from the Salt Museum to the Canteen, cross the lake, then ride another three miles along the other shore. Then you turn around on a loop and go back (that loop is where the pedestrian bridge was that they took down after the accident yesterday).

Wouldn't it be great to be able to ride the whole lake – not to mention have a safe alternate method of transportation to get from the Village of Liverpool to Carousel Center?

We can only hope.

Fazeshift

Fazeshift talks music

The audio is a little quiet on this one, but here's my interview this morning with Fazeshift, a local pop quartet who recently signed with Aux Records.

These guys met in a church youth group, and after waiting for their bassist to finish school, they're ready to release their first EP on Sept. 30.

Artists of our generations

I think every generation has a handful of artists they are lucky to have.

These are people who are writers, poets, musicians, painters, photographers – often they do more than one of these things, and well. Sometimes they are people we don't even know live next door to us, other times they are among the most vocal of their generation.

Federico Garcia Lorca was one of them. So was Kurt Vonnegut. I think Ralph Steadman qualifies as well. So does Salvador Dali.

I've been lucky to have known or known of James O'Brien for seven years now. His was the first art that made sense to me after September 11, 2001, and now when I need my head cleared, it's his art I tend to use as a helping hand.

I think time will show that he is one of the great artists of our generation, though he may be one of those people who doesn't get famous, in a sense, perhaps for another long time.

The world lost Garcia Lorca too soon; he was an unfortunate victim of his art and personality, in a place that wasn't ready for him. But those who paid attention got to be young and grow old with Vonnegut and Dali, and they're doing the same for Steadman. I believe we're going to get to do that with O'Brien.

He's blogging now, I'm happy to say.

Let him change your life a little.

Happinesses on a day off

• Sleeping in, which I actually sort of did.

• On the bus this morning, a teenage girl moved from her seat when an older woman who clearly needed one of the seats up front got on – with no prodding or hesitation.

• Acoustic Colin Hay on the stereo at the cafe.

• Moving to within one step of dumping my old clunker: all that's left is to actually get it to the dealership and drive off in my new car tomorrow morning.

• Hand-made greeting cards purchased at Eureka, one for great customer service and the other for a friend who skipped town prematurely.

• Lunch with Jill.

• Also, the day's only half over.

Update: • Going to see Bartolo Colon pitch tonight.

Where the road middles

If you want to drive down Enterprise Parkway in De Witt, NY, you have a choice: You turn off of Bridge Street in East Syracuse, or you turn onto a short connector road from Widewaters Parkway in De Witt.

These will get you to two different ends of Enterprise Parkway.

You cannot get from one end to the other while staying on Enterprise Parkway, if you are driving.

This tree is in the middle.

I like this tree, plain as it appears.

Lest you desire to simply drive around the tree, note that the concrete does not run around the tree, so you will first have to drive over three very large rocks that serve as a barrier, and then you'll have to cross the grass, while avoiding the picnic tables on one side and the wetlands on the other.

In the otherwise pedestrian-unfriendly office park in which I work, this tree is like the last union member, who will not leave the rally until someone not only brings out the ax, but uses it.

Plain as it appears, I like this tree.