Friday, April 25, 2008

A Half-Dozen Random Facts

Alis Hawkins has tagged me to present six random things about myself. Since everything about me is random, this is a fairly easy task.

Before I get on to it, however, this might be a good place for me to mention how much I enjoyed Ms. Hawkins' book Testament. I promised myself when I started that I wouldn't review MNW books on this blog--though I have twice reviewed non-MNW books written by MNW authors. But it wouldn't really be a review, would it, if I just happened to let slip in passing that Testament was a great read in every regard?

1. Right in the middle of where my fingerprints ought to be I have little nubs that stick out. I have these on my toes as well. Palmists refer to these as "sensitive pads". My belief is there is gecko blood somewhere in my family tree.

2. I have mastered the ability to read in the shower. A character in my work-in-progress does this as well, and in one scene acts out how you accomplish this while washing your hair.

3. I've been a vegetarian for...oh, ouch: 39 years.

4. I started college as a music major. And I haven't touched a musical instument in at least 12 years.

5. I have utterly useless smatterings of a dozen languages--heavy on Russian and French (which sounds as though I'm a salad), as well as Spanish obscenities, but with bits of Chinese, Bahasa, and what-have-you tossed in. This has developed into a language called "foreign". Pamela and I can converse in this tongue without fear that anyone anywhere can understand us. In fact, we did so once in Thailand while surrounded by an annoying American tour group, and kept it up for about three hours. Once they decided we didn't understand English, they argued amongst themselves as to our national origin. (I believe they settled on Eastern Europe.)

6. I'm a natural-phenomena geek (and so is Pamela, but she's a geophysicist, and therefore can claim it's part of her work). Being native Californians, we've been in dozens of earthquakes and have been up-close-and-personal with many wildfires; but we've also visited several active volcanic eruptions; sat out two hurricanes; climbed a cliff to watch one very disappointing tsunami; took Christmas vacation in a little town outside Fairbanks, Alaska to watch the Northern Lights; and have been lucky enough to see two total solar eclipses. We're also fond of lightning storms. (Still on our to-do list: tornadoes, Southern Lights.)

I'll tag six other people as soon as I can think of them. Meanwhile, as a visual aid to accompany Aliya's post on Neil Ayres, here's a picture of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew.


Alis said...

Fab David, and thanks for the nice words about Testament.
I must ask, what's Bahasa - to my shame, I've never heard of it...

David Isaak said...

Bahasa Indonesia is the national language of Indonesia. (Bahasa means "language" so Bahasa Indonesia just means "Indonesian language.") It is almost but not quite identical to Bahasa Malaysia.

It is adapted from a local Malay tongue. Pretty much everyone in Indonesia speaks it and also a local tongue (Javanese, Sundanese, etc.) Since it was to some extent invented, it has plenty of cognates, excellent phonetic spelling, and is very polite. For example, a sharp insult is to call someone "kepala udang" (shrimp-head), which is pretty mild by English standards.

The only Bahasa word I know of to make it into English is "ketchup/catsup", which they spell "kecap". Be warned, though" real kecap has fish sauce in it. (Yuck.)

Alis said...

Thanks, that's really interesting. Interesting the way some languages refer to themselves as 'x language'. Rwandans refer to their language as Kinya Rwanda, whereas we westerners call it Rwandan. It is about having a lot of immediate neighbours whose languages and ethnicity is also known to you, do you think? Whereas the Angles just had themselves for quite a while and their language just became Angl-ish!

David Isaak said...

Neighbors help, though a lot of folks--the ancient Greeks included--seem to have made references to adjacent languages that were less than flattering (hence 'barbarian').

I'd never really thought about things like "Angl-ish". Oddly, it sounds like something an outsider would apply as a label, doesn't it? Being left alone for prolonged periods of time does make people a little funny, though. Look at Japan.

It's astonishing how far English has spread, given the unsystematic nature of the language and the hopeless spelling. I love it.

Charles Lambert said...

You may not forgive me for this easily, David, but I've just tagged you. And you can't even tag me back (at least not with this one), because I've already been tagged twice, presumably on a random basis... You can find out more about it here.

You're under no obligation.


Jen Ster said...

Hey, I started as a music major in college, too! Full scholarship and all that. After I graduated I played with a local bagpipe band for about 11 years. No money in that but it's fun.

Five other random items: Also took a semester of Russian and am trying to relearn a little of the stuff before we go there next year. Tried to be a vegetarian once and damn near died; turned out I have pernicious anemia and I am doomed to be a carnivore. Sober since October I think 18, 2004. Spent three of the weirdest weeks of my life partying in El Salvador. Once swapped smooches with the late and lamented lead singer of Big Country, Stuart Adamson. Is that five? Yeah, that's five.

Jen Ster said...

Oh, and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew rocks.

David Isaak said...

Hi, Jen--

"Sober since October" sounds like something. Book title? Country & Western song?

Jen Ster said...

Oh, country western song, definitely. And that's more poetic than what really happened, which was, "I went to see Jeff Dunham live and had a drink for the first time in months and three or four hours later discovered just what the hell has been causing my ongoing stomach problems since turning 21." Oh well. At least I know now...

Jen Ster said...

Hey. I just realized Dr. Honeydew doesn't have any eyes. Why, then, does he need glasses?

David Isaak said...

Hi, Jen--

Yes, a lot of ailments can be traced to turning 21. As to Dr Honeydew, I assume they must be eyeglasses.