Hundslappadrifa

Icelanders strive to maintain their native language as an option for communication with computers, as well as something that its children can read and speak.

Most high schools are also waiting until senior year to read works by the writer Halldor Laxness, the 1955 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, who is buried in a small cemetery near his farm in western Iceland.

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At the park: 91

A report from the 14th:

Greetings, duck boxers! The 14th saw hatching evidence in 5 more boxes, bringing the season total to 7 boxes with hatched eggs. Unfortunately, it appears that box #62 was predated, at least in part; Paul evicted a Black Rat Snake from the box.

In box #10, eggs were in the process of hatching; the female Wood Duck attempted to entice us away from the box with a broken wing distraction display.

the view from box #13With the holiday and such, the 4th of June makes more sense for our next work day. We will need to check only 6 remaining boxes, so the morning should go quickly. Among these are #10 and #13, which might possibly have a second clutch started.

Bird of the day was Acadian Flycatcher, heard quite distinctly in the woods on the way to the boardwalk.

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.d0t:: a RotoPlastic Ballet

Pointless Theatre’s latest offering is an interesting blend of low- and high-tech stick puppetry and video projections. In a strange futurescape populated only by robots — yet powered by the life forces of Navi, the one remaining human — a small glitch in the system becomes transformative. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough plot or distinct characterization to carry the story. All of it is falls on the shoulders of Navi (ably performed by the nimble-tongued Navid Azeez).

  • .d0t:: a RotoPlastic Ballet, Pointless Theatre, Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint, Washington
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At the park: 90

From my last report to the nest box team:

Much activity in the boxes so far this year! We’ve had nests in 14 of the 16 boxes. Of these, box #2 has already hatched out (unfortunately, only 8 of 22 eggs hatched). Also, oddly and sadly, box #6 hatched just one Hooded Merganser egg while the 13-15 Wood Duck eggs did not hatch. Kat reported the sounds of pipping in box #1.

So we should have several more boxes hatched out for our next session, on 14 May. For 28 May, I think that we will just spot check known active nests. Depending on what we find then, we can make a call on when and what to do in June.

Bonus birds from last Sunday were Prothonotary Warbler (heard, and seen by some) and Red-eyed Vireo (heard, perhaps seen).

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Fun Home

Alison Bechdel’s unflinching memoir, translated into musical theater, has effectively managed the transition from chamber musical to a more conventional proscenium, big-theater setting. Nevertheless, it is the quieter song moments that are most effective: Abby Corrigan captures the joy of Medium Alison’s “Changing My Major” with her voice and without overselling the number physically; Alessandra Baldacchino’s reading of Small Alison’s “Ring of Keys” is confident and still fresh. The cast is well supported by the sound team, allowing characters to turn upstage when it’s natural to do do without losing audibility.

  • Fun Home, music by Jeanne Tesori, book & lyrics by Lisa Kron, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, directed by Sam Gold, National Theatre, Washington
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    Full bloom

    going crazyThe azaleas around my house are going crazy. Just a reminder to myself that this dumpy little place is still pretty fine.

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    One of tens of thousands

    Life achievement unlocked: today for the first time I marched in a major political protest on the streets of Washington, D.C. As a member of the March for Science, I walked from the Washington Monument grounds, within sight of the White House, down Constitution Avenue to 3rd Street, on the fringe of the Capitol grounds. Weather conditions at the rally were less than ideal (drizzle and showers), but I stuck to the principle that there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.

    getting ready to marchI walked with a group well-organized by Audubon Naturalist Society (that’s us mustering on the steps of the National Museum of Natural History). ANS’s march leaders had the brain wave of bringing decorative bird spinners as a rallying point. The spinners (and the stylin’ t-shirts) brought us lots of attention, especially from journalists major and minor.

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    Alice blue

    I was consolidating some old files of clippings and I found this gift from 1990 David: a copy of Nicholson Baker’s story, “Room Temperature.”

    And yet I had always envied normal households that had (besides aluminum screen doors whose hissing pistons could be locked into the open position by moving a little ring) doorstops wedged permanently into place under the open swinging kitchen door.

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    For Leta: 6

    “Lisburn Road,” by Michael Hofmann.

    A trunk holding a suitcase holding a holdall,
    The travel equivalent of the turducken…

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    Dark slope

    “The Bear,” by Amit Majmudar.

    A word peeked sometimes from the cave mouth
    only to shuffle back,

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    Clinch

    Akiko Busch suggests that we learn the names of some of our rivers and other natural features.

    The name of the Brazos River in Texas was derived from the Spanish Rio de los Brazos de Dios, meaning the “River of the Arms of God” — what the waterway appeared to be to early settlers in that parched part of the country.

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    Chute

    Richard Bolles has passed away. Early in my career, as I blundered my way into writing software for a living, I turned to his books for guidance. I’m not sure that he provided any specific, useful advice, but I was reassured: it always felt like he was in my corner.

    It turns out that he spent a good part of his early life as a clergyman in the Episcopal church. Leta would say, “of course.”

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    Perking

    From the coffee and birds file: Juan Medrano et al. at the University of California, Davis have published the genome of Coffea arabica.

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    GO CAPS

    TIL the New York Times does not have a rule in its style manual concerning capitalization of the titles of artistic works set in lower case by their creators.

    It does call for following American capitalization rules for the titles of foreign-language works (“Così Fan Tutte,” not “Così fan tutte”); urges avoiding “fanciful” punctuation in company names (“Yahoo,” not “Yahoo!”); and calls for capitalizing only the first letter of acronyms that exceed four letters (“Unicef,” not “UNICEF”).

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    Spark decoded

    “Guy’s account,” said Henry, “is substantially the same as the others, with the most interesting exception that he gets Tol calls from London at between six and seven in the evening when the cheap rate is on. In his opinion the offender is a schoolboy.”

    —Muriel Spark, Memento Mori (1958), chap. 11

     

    A slip? Tol for toll? But here it is again:

    “Nonsense,” said Dame Lettie. “A middle-aged man.”

    “It is simple,” said Henry, “to trace a Tol call from London to the country. And yet the police have not traced any caller to Guy Leet at Stedrost.”

    And indeed, Tol was a shorthand for placing a metered call within the London exchange:

    Previously, making a trunk call involved what was known as ‘delay working’ where a subscriber booked long distance calls in advance and was later rung back by the operator when one of the trunk lines became available. Obviously, the greater the demand made on the exchange, the longer the wait. Under the new ‘Toll’ system subscribers were now able to ask the local operator for ‘Tol’ for calls to exchanges within the London Toll Area. They were then connected to the Toll operator who completed the call while the subscriber remained at the telephone. Later, as more automatic exchanges were introduced, the subscriber simply had to dial ‘TOL’ to be connected to the Toll operator.

    Dialing TOL was a service like dialing TIM for the time, as fans of Tom Stoppard’s If You’ll Be Glad I’ll Be Frank know. Or dialing UMP to get cricket scores?!

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