Blue Heron in flight

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mad Man Drum

Funky cold day that never really formed properly and slunk back into its own rabbit hole. Got a call after coffee. It was the dentist's receptionist. There was an opening, could I come in a bit earlier for my cleaning? Well over a year overdue, I said sure.

I am not really a dentalphobe per sé but my hygienists have remarked that I have a quite muscular front lip that fights it all the way. Couple that with the sound of the power equipment and I just want it to be over. I steeled myself with some early medicine and antibiotics. People that have plastic parts in their heart like me have to be doubly careful, the mouth being one of the serious gateways to cardio perdition.

The backup dentist is named Isaacs and he was doing the cleaning himself. I asked him if he was tribal? I had seen him once before but had forgotten to ask. My jewdar wasn't really connecting. He said no, the surname was Welsh, as was his family. I was interested in the etymology, got back to the office this morning and looked it up.
Isaac - Hebrew: Laughter
First name variations: Ike, Zach, Isaak, Yitzchak, Isak, Itzak, Isac, Ishaq, Isiac, Issac, Izak, Issaic, Issiac, Isaack, Isaakios, Isacco
Last name origin & meaning:
Jewish, English, Welsh, French, etc.: from the Biblical Hebrew personal name yishāq ‘he laughs’. This was the name of the son of Abraham (Genesis 21:3) by his wife Sarah. The traditional explanation of the name is that Abraham and Sarah laughed with joy at the birth of a son to them in their old age, but a more plausible explanation is that the name originally meant ‘may God laugh’, i.e. ‘smile on him’. Like Abraham, this name has always been immensely popular among Jews, but was also widely used in medieval Europe among Christians. Hence it is the surname of many gentile families as well as Jews. In England and Wales it was one of the Old Testament names that were particularly popular among Nonconformists in the 17th–19th centuries, which accounts for its frequency as a Welsh surname. (Welsh surnames were generally formed much later than English ones.) In eastern Europe the personal name in its various vernacular forms was popular in Orthodox (Russian, Ukrainian, and Bulgarian), Catholic (Polish), and Protestant (Czech) Churches. It was borne by a 5th-century father of the Armenian Church and by a Spanish saint martyred by the Moorish rulers of Cordoba in ad 851 on account of his polemics against Islam. In this spelling, the American family name has also absorbed cognates from other European languages, e.g. German Isaak, Dutch Izaac, etc. (for the forms, see Hanks and Hodges 1988). It is found as a personal name among Christians in India, and in the U.S. is used as a family name among families from southern India.
New one on me. Welsh nonconformist, my kind of people... My grandfather Israel's middle name, Itzhak. The cleaning proceeded as these things do, I learned about the mouth being the dirtiest spot on the body. He asked me which spot and I said the brain. Last week the regular dentist, my pal Ron, said that I was literally getting long in the tooth like a horse and I was wondering for a second if they were going to try to put me down.

I managed to leave mostly intact but not before indulging in one more linguistic kerfuffle with Dr. Isaac. I asked him the plural of calculus, not the math, the hard stuff on the teeth. He said that there wasn't one. Calculus is like dirt, it is a word for the aggregate, he tells me. There is no smaller unit, dirt's dirt. 

I disagreed and offered calculi, as either the singular or the plural I didn't remember which? We agreed to disagree. I looked it up.

From Wicki: 
A calculus (plural calculi) is a stone (a concretion of material, usually mineral salts) that forms in an organ or duct of the body. Formation of calculi is known as lithiasis. Stones can cause a number of medical conditions.
Some common principles (below) apply to stones at any location, but for specifics see the particular stone type in question.
Calculi are not to be confused with gastrolith (never!)
Wicki goes on to discuss various forms of calculi, which you can study at your leisure and to your heart's content if it is in your interest.  I'm through with the issue, forever. But we did discuss the salivary duct so I know there can be no confusion about geography. Robert Sommers, tasked with spreading the english language throughout the land and the outer provinces.

I never found my sea legs after that. Did something I never do, stopped at the colonel for a greasy box of original recipe. Not bad. The corn and potatoes, thank you. Decided to drive up to Temecula and cruise the antique malls. It was a bummer. People's shit, make that the detritus of our age, is getting more crude and distasteful every passing second. Never had a twinge this side of revulsion at any of the shops. Afraid we are in for a bad run.

I had an appointment back at the shop and decided to stop at the library. Picked up a recent book that compiles slave escape accounts of the 19th century that will be next to read on the list. Also Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational.

Wandered into the Bottom Shelf and bought two books by the great Lynd Ward, in good condition, God's Man and Gargantua. Ward (26 June 1905 – 28 June 1985) wrote books without words, a brilliant woodcut artist who ended up in Virginia and whose main inspiration were the german artists Frans Masereel and Otto Nückel.  If you are around the gallery and you have never read God's Man you need to take the time.

Kerry called. Why didn't I do a blog about the NCAA brackets? Why don't you, I ask him? None of my readers give a shit about sports, well, hardly. I can't, I don't have a blog, he tells me. Not my problem.

He says that I have been pulling my punches politically of late. Well no shit, I've offended paying customers, I almost shut the blog down, did shut it down, and now I'm not edgy enough for you? Sorry. God forbid if I should have to worry about something so mundane as paying my bills this month.

I called Cam to see how he was doing. He sounded broker than me and I decided not to whine.

I just read a book called Facing the wave, A journey in the wake of the tsunami (Pantheon 2012) by Gretel Erlich. Erlich arrives in japan shortly after the 2012 tsunami and Fukushima disaster. A student of japanese poetry and I assume Zen, the author recounts people's reactions to the incredible events in a very pretty and poetic way. You quickly get a sense that these people have made their peace with the chaotic history of natural disasters that regularly hit japan.

I wanted to like the book but I couldn't. It was almost patronizing to me, a romanticization of a terrible tragedy with a whole bunch of Basho thrown in. I like Basho as much as the next guy, frankly Joshu even better, but I couldn't help thinking that her approach fit her own narrative and I would have been more interested in an unvarnished telling without the roshi's window dressing. Don't have to soup it up. An interesting account of a strong and enduring people. Well intentioned but culturally voyeuristic.

We must move forward. Life is but a dream!


Anonymous said...

Robbie, only you can have such a conversation with the ivory cleaner. too much

grumpy said...

it's a thankless job but someone has to do it, defend the English language that is; i used to delight in Edwin Newman's books and his tv commentaries.