Saturday, December 31, 2005

Porto de Galinhas

Galinhas Reef
Originally uploaded by wildmansmee.

Immediately upon arriving at my sister's house last week, I repacked for a holiday at the beach. That means I took a quick shower (in cold water), changed into my last remaining mostly clean clothes, and threw a portion of my dirty laundry into my day pack. The six of us and our luggage (some members of my family brought more than a day pack) hopped into a white VW bus (called a combi here) and drove off down the coast to Porto de Galinhas, a little tourist town on the beach.

My sister tells me the galinhas in the Porto de Galinhas used to refer to slaves, that Porto de Galinhas used to be a major port of entry for this kind of galinha. (I'm not sure why slaves would be called galinhas (chickens) though, since those were the days when chickens roamed free.) However, the local tourist industry apparently decided that this etymology wouldn't be good for PR, and so now the galinha references you find there are giant wooden carvings of chickens, all over the town, and bug-eyed chickens on t-shirts, yelling "NO stress!" and other endearing slogans.

We rented a little chalé in a pousada for three nights, a few blocks from the beach, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two floors, and two front doors. There was also a single winding staircase, a kitchen and a couch. Mum and Dad slept in one room, and the four of us kids slept in the other. With the four of us, the mosquitos, and the flying ants, it was very cozy. Pinker got kicked many times during the night when one of us others turned over.

There were several times in the chalé that I opened some musty cupboard or walked into a room and had a feeling of deja vu, taking me back to the Zander house, the last house we lived in in Colombia. Of course, the chalé was much smaller, and was in some ways nicer, with tile floors rather than cement, and smells of ocean rather than views of the lake. But somehow it was similar too.

The main attraction at Porto de Galinhas is the reefs. At a particularly low tide, the reefs just off shore stick up out of the water, creating tide pools with tropical fish trapped inside. We were there near the half moon, so the tide wasn't so low, but it was still low enough for us to walk around on and watch the fish.

We also spent a lot of time by the pool, on the couch, eating, or wandering the tourist shops.

On the way out, we made a wrong turn and ended up driving along a dirt road through this estuary. It was almost like a jeep ride to Port.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


I only stayed in Goiania for about 48 hours. Matthew and Elsiene had come a week before, and then that Sunday the rest of us arrived, Biker before Pinker and me, and Liner and the parents in the evening.

I don't have a proper picture of the house or the neighborhood. The grandfather lives in a little house behind the one Elsiene's parents live in, and a third little house is behind that, all on a smallish lot. Beside the house is a little garden with assorted fruit, including bananas, papayas and a giant passion fruit. The neighborhood felt a lot like Puerto Lleras or Villavo, cities near where we lived in Colombia.

Her parents slept in the grandfather's house, and the eight of us slept in the front house. Pinkerton and I got one of the two entryways. The activities consisted principally of eating and conversations where we spoke slowly in English and Spanish, and Elsiene's parents and multitudinous cousins spoke slowly in Portuguese with bits of English. Aileen, Elsiene, and a couple of the cousins are all pretty fluent in both Portuguese and English, and Matthew is doing pretty well too, but the rest of us spent a lot of time rewording things and asking people to repeat something.

There was a wedding. Photography figured prominently. There were two official still cameras and one video camera, and it seemed like an average of one camera or camera phone per audience member. I believe Biker had four cameras. Right after the bride and groom are presented as man and wife, there was about a half hour interlude of pictures--with the parents of the bride, with the parents of the groom, with the official witnesses on one side and then the other, with the grandmother of the bride, with all the flower girls, ring bearers and such, etc. Afterwards, in the greet-the-new-couple line, there were more pictures.

Apparently the wedding was also fairly unusual in that it was more laid back than typical Christian weddings here, but not so laid back as to have dancing. I still find it a little hard to accept that my brother has had two weddings without any dancing. Biker, since as the recipient of the other bouquet, you're the next one getting married, I want you to promise to have some good Salsa and Forro at your wedding, okay?

That was over a week ago. I have gotten rather behind in relating my adventures. But I'm on freakin' vacation. That means I'm allowed to be a lagger, and have fun doing it. Which I am.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Despite the deafening silence on this blog in recent weeks, I have not fallen off the earth, as some may have supposed. In fact, as many of you know, I survived the end of the semester with only an incomplete to add to my collection. The number of students who hate me personally is probably countable on a single hand, and the number who hate linguistics is quite possibly less than the number who like it.

So I'm in Recife now, at my sister's house, com a meu papai, a mea mamai, as meas hirmãas e a meu hirmão menhor. My older brother and Elsiene will be joining us again in a couple days so we can have Christmas. We spent the beginning of last week at the house of Elsiene's parents, hanging out with them and her cousins. There was also a wedding. Then the end of last week we spent at Porto de Galinhas, a little beach resort just south of here. More about each of these will be forthcoming, but this post is about traveling.

I arrived at the house of Elsiene's parents about 40 hours after leaving SD. Splitting lanes from SD to Oceanside and from Irvine to Buena Park, I made the drive in 3 hrs in Friday evening traffic when without traffic it takes 2. After repacking and getting dinner, Pinker's friend drove us to LAX, arriving about 9:00. There were lines all over. Pinker asked the man tending one of the lines what his line was for.

"It's the same as inside."

Apparently all the lines were the same. So we got in the one outside. When we got to the front of the line, we gave the guy our passports. He checks them in his machine and asks, "Thomas?"


"Are you Thomas?"

We both respond that no, we are not Thomas.

Holding up Timothy's passport, "You will have to go inside. This passport requires special handling." He pointed us to line number 19.

After getting to the front of the line we found a machine for automatic check-in. After poking around and asking around, we found that by scanning my credit card it would read my name and find my ticket info. After doing so, I was told that since my itinerary included international travel, I would have to see an agent. The agent that came by told us that for international checkin, we should have gotten in the blue line, the one marked "Domestic Checkin". So we got in that line. Standing in that line, I got out the info I had on my itinerary, and discovered that the flight was due to depart at 10:00 rather than 11:20 as it said on the printed ticket. What time was it now? 10:08. Oh. A man came by and told us to go over to a fourth line and we could get it straightened out.

By this time Pinker and I were both quite frustrated. Thus, Pinkerton was mad and I was discouraged. The next 3.5 hours passed in somewhat of a blur, but it involved a fair amount of standing in line, standing at the counter, Timothy demanding that Delta do something to straighten this out, and me sitting on the floor against a post. I think it also involved being told to go back to the long Domestic Checkin line, but we didn't. In the end, they were able to get my ticket fixed through to Sao Paulo, but Pinker would have to get his fixed in the morning since he had an e-ticket and the international flight was a different airline. I was convinced that the Delta people had been quite helpful, but Pinker thought they were still being less than forthright with their promises to help. We were told to come back in the morning and go to the line marked "Domestic Checkin". We spent the night in the Bradley Terminal, talking philosophy, sleeping uncomfortably, and splitting a Haagendasz ice cream and coffee for breakfast.

We returned to the Domestic Checkin at the Delta terminal, and the guy guarding the entrance to that line informed us that we should go down to the international checkin down the hall. Dubiously, we proceeded through that line, and he proved correct. Checking our bags we were redirected yet again, but we eventually made it onto an airplane, almost 12 hours after getting to the airport.

The flight to NYC, the NYC airport and the flight to Sao Paulo were fairly pleasant and uneventful. I read a lot. Pinker slept a lot. I must have slept a fair amount too.

The flight to Sao Paulo was an hour late, which meant we just missed the flight previously reserved for us. There proceeded another series of lines, a taxi ride across town for $45 to the other airport (which we paid for half in Euros, half in USD, since that's what we had), a rush through checkin, a run to the gate, and then another brief flight to Goiania. When we didn't show up on the earlier flight, Matthew guessed we were on this later flight, and met us at the little airport shortly after we arrived. This was Sunday afternoon, approximately 40 hours after I left San Diego.

Leaving Goiania was quite an ordeal as well. Everyone but Aileen and I left on a morning flight with one airline, while Aileen and I left in the evening with Varig. We were originally supposed to leave before them, but Varig canceled that flight. Five minutes after Elsiene's parents left Aileen and me at the airport, we found out that the flight was delayed. We camped out in the airport until it left later that night, putting us in Sao Paulo about midnight. Varig put us up in a nice hotel, since the connecting flight wasn't leaving until the morning. We packed into the hotel shuttle, ate dinner, slept several hours, ate breakfast, packed into the shuttle again, checked our luggage back in, and waited around while they delayed our flight again. By the time I arrived in Recife, I had spent more time in transit than I had hanging out in Goiania. But in transit, I got lots of time to read and to hangout with my brother and sister. Traveling is about the journey, not the destination, right?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Is it gross to wear the same pair of pants this weekend that I wore all last weekend (without washing them in between)? I'm not sure which of my dirty pants is the cleanest.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Spring break?

How about a Spring break. Is it time yet?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

That word again

I'm sure there's a good word for it. It kind of feels like you're saying weltanshauung or bremsstrahlung, but not meaning either of those things. Something like foreboding, but scarier.

Teaching college kids is like giving class presentations three times a week. With grading. And when the class is boring, or the explanation unclear, or the assignments too difficult, they're frustrated or angry at you their instructor. And that's not very fun for anyone. And linguistics is supposed to be fun. At times like these I want to return my contract and 85 bucks a week, and return to my garden on the slope of South Mountain. The students deserve better than this, and I can't deliver.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

What's the word for

that vague premonition of impending utter calamity?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Today I cleaned my iVook

My keyvoard was getting pretty gross, with hairs, dandruff, and dirt fallen in vetween the translucent white keys. So in the middle of cleaning my room (yeah, woah!) I took a few moments to take off the keys and clean it all out. I thought it looked pretty cool with eberything taken apart, so I took a picture. To sabe your stomachs I am only posting the photo of after I had cleaned the gunk out.
Putting it vack together was pretty fun too--much like doing a puzzle. You start with edge pieces, then work your way in. There were a couple parts I had to think pretty hard avout though. Now it's all vack together, vut I'be discobered I'm not as much of a touch typist as I had thought.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A linguistic puzzle

I gave my students the assignment of find Google search strings with one asterisk (like '"the * ran"') that would catch results where all the words in the wild card slot were of the same part of speech. So for example, many students used something like '"the * ran"' for catching nouns. (There is a wrinkle that recently Google changed how they interpret the asterisk, so that now it can match more than one word. Please ignore those results.)

Well, one student came up with the pattern '"he talked *"' for catching adverbs. Now, of course that slot could be filled with an adverb, but always? or even most often? I had expected 'about' or 'with' to show up most, but if you look at the results, in nearly all the results, you do indeed get an adverb in the wildcard slot, and 'about' comes right after. What gives? Why do people so consistently slip an adverb between 'talked' and 'about'?

I'm baffled.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

More photos posted

Originally uploaded by wildmansmee.
I have a few photos from the moto camping trip, and some from the SF trip too. I now return to my non-vacationing life.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

This just in from the front

I have survived my first hour of teaching college students. I did not have to send any of them to stand outside.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Originally uploaded by wildmansmee.
RunUpHill photos are posted.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


This was posted on GCFL today. I am very thankful we never tried to fit us all in to a VW bug.

You can't answer the question, "Where are you from?"

You speak two languages, but can't spell either.

You flew before you could walk.

You embarrass yourself by asking what swear words mean.

You have a passport, but no driver's license.

You watch National Geographic specials and recognise

You have a time zone map next to your telephone.

You don't know how to play Pac-Man.

You would rather eat seaweed than cafeteria food.

Your life story uses the phrase "Then we went to..." five

You speak to different ethnic groups in their own language.

You think in grams, metres, and litres.

You speak with authority on the quality of airline travel.

You send your family peanut butter and Kool-Aid for

You worry about fitting in, and wear a native wrap around
the dorm.

National Geographic makes you homesick.

You have strong opinions about how to cook bugs.

You live at school, work in the tropics, and go home for

You don't know where home is.

Strangers say they can remember you when you were "this

You have friends from or in 29 different countries.

You do your devotions in another language.

You sort your friends by continent.

You keep dreaming of a green Christmas.

You tell people where you're from, and their eyes get big.

You are grateful for the speed and efficiency of any postal

You realise that furlough is not a vacation.

You wince when people mispronounce foreign words.

You've spoken in dozens of churches, but aren't a pastor.

Furlough means that you are stuffed every night... and have
to eat it all to seem polite.

Your parents decline your cousin's offer to let them use his
BMW, and stuff all six of you into an old VW Beetle instead.

You stockpile mangoes.

You know what REAL coffee tastes like.

The majority of your friends don't speak English as a first

Someone brings up the name of a team, and you get the sport

You believe vehemently that football is played with a round,
spotted ball.

You know there is no such thing as an international

You know the difference between patriotism and nationalism.

You realise what a small world it is, after all.

You never take anything for granted.

You watch a movie set in a foreign country, and you know
what the nationals are REALLY saying into the camera.

You know how to pack.

All preaching sounds better under a corrugated tin roof.

Having four distinct seasons other than: dry, very dry,
rainy, very rainy, is a new experience.

After a couple of years in one spot, you're ready to move

You frequently say, "I don't know, I was out of the

You feel uncomfortable in school without a uniform.

School gets cancelled due to flash flooding.

Tropical fruits aren't imported.

Walking miles to and from school is "normal."

If someone asks what school you went to, you reply, "depends
on the year."

You are afraid to ask what you are eating. But munch away,
with a smile on your face.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Someone needs to learn their fruit shapes better

The key mystery that I'm waiting NASA's final word on: Is Tempel 1 shaped like pickle, a banana or an avocado?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Ducal Ceiling Movie

I am super hip because I am posting a video clip to my blog. I think there's a super hip name for this, like 'vieblogging' or 'vidlogging'. So just like, imagine that I used that super hip word here too.

(You have to click on the photo to see the movie.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

New scientific breakthrough!!

New study reveals the brain is more like other biological systems than digital computers! On the one hand I'm glad that there are people doing this work, but it's kind of a sad commentary on the history of linguistics and cognitive science that this study is still novel enough to be publishable.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Seeing the world in a day


A quaint view of Venice.

And the tour group waiting
at the crosswalk at the
Arabian border. Paris is
just behind the camera.

While Blucky and Pinkerton get to spend weeks and months traveling the world this summer, I've had to settle for the 24 hour whirlwind tour. Venice, Paris, Arabia, Rome -- everything you might want to see, without the troubles associated with actual travel.

Here, we have me receiving the blessing of Lenin's ghost.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Structured Procrastination

Today in my procrastination research lab, I discovered an excellent article on Structured Procrastination, in which John Perry, one of the founders of the Center for the Study of Language and Information, mentions behaviors familiar to many of my readers and describes his approach to using these behaviors to his advantage.

Also of interest to other folks researching procrastination are a dissertation on the Delmore Effect (explained in the abstract as "the paradoxical failure of people to formulate explicit goals for themselves in the domains they most value") and 43 Things, where I ran across this literature.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

A Manifesto of Dialectical Diachronics

The history of languages worldwide and especially the history of English clearly show progress towards increasingly superior forms. Whereas we can expect these patterns to continue as we progress, Dialectical Diachronicism advocates revolutionary efforts to further these changes and accelerate our progress:

1) Regularization of plural and tense paradigms (not paradigmata). No more of this "octopi/octopodes/octopuses?", "syllabi/syllabantes/syllabuses?", "kleenexen/kleenices/kleenexes?" and "moose/meese/mooses?", nor such monstrosities as "dived/diven/dove/doved/doven?" and "drunk/drinken/drunken/drinked/drank/dranked/drunked/dranken?". All plurals shall use the +/z/ morpheme, and preterite and past participles (regardless or use) shall use +/d/. Spell them as you see fit.

2) Furthermore, no more special treatment for [3RD.SG.PRES].

3) As be already the norm in common speech, 'them' be the proper pronoun for use for an animate individual when their gender be unknown or irrelevant.

4) The shortage of verbal morphology and the inexorable advance towards pro-drop thenecesitate a reanalysis of subject pronouns as prefixes. (Some members of the committee thave recommended that wego through a period of weanalyzing them as clitics. Itshall be put up for a vote at the next meeting.) The details thebe still being worked out.

English speakers of the world, wefind ourselves at a crucial moment in history: now. When a friend who thebe ignorant of the revolution thespeak the unenlightened way, warn them sternly. When an enemy thespeak in the unenlightened way, quote Vogon poetry at them. In a few short years, weell speak an even more superb language, even cooler than now, and weell reminisce, saying "Yremember how wespeaked back then? Webeed so unenlightened and whack."

Sunday, April 17, 2005

And now for something completely nother

Given the widespread use of the "a whole nother" construction, one would expect 'nother' to show up in other constructions, but after much highly scientific introspection about my internal grammar, I was convinced, though puzzled, that it did in fact not work in other constructions.

I was talking with slowlane tonight, though, and she said, "He's got a full nother week." There it is--a perfectly sensible utterance. Where else does 'nother' already appear in the wild? How else shall 'nother' be used?

Googling 'nother -whole' doesn't show much of interest, but buried in the hits of the surname Nother and "'nother" at the beginning of a phrase, are "some nother stuff" and "some nother wierd things." Furthermore, '"a * nother" -whole' turns up "a hefty nother thing", "a good nother 20 years", "a totally nother context", "a single nother person", and "a couple nother questions", among others.

colloquium speakers

colloquium speakers
Originally uploaded by wildmansmee.

I guess those of you that weren't there might not have known that yesterday was our linguistics association's big annual event. I think it went pretty well. The lunch part was even quite enjoyable.

The 'official' picture of the colloquium speakers is posted here, but I think I like this one better.

Monday, April 11, 2005

That was almost fun

I did my taxes. (w00t!) I have an adjusted gross income almost 4 times as much as last year, and my total tax (including self-employment tax from tutoring) was less! It was also free, with nothing to mail, even though I have to do a standard 1040 with three W-2s and one 1099. Actually not quite free, because I'm paying the feds by credit card, and there's a convenience fee. But still.

From the post-process survey:

Would you recommend this program to your friends and family?

Yes. I would.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Ocotillo Hike Photos

Originally uploaded by wildmansmee.
I've finally put up my photos from the hike last Sunday.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Cox Arena

This morning I had to go down to school for something, and I left by an unfamiliar route. I made a wrong turn and saw Cox Arena for the first time in the almost two years I've been here. I'd heard there was some kind of stadium over there.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Vogon poetry

See, see the anxious sky
Marvel at its big puce depths.
Tell me, Biker do you
Wonder why the horse fly ignores you?
Why its foobly stare
makes you feel drowsy.
I can tell you, it is
Worried by your vlegoromious facial growth
That looks like
A cream cheese.
What's more, it knows
Your pulcritude potting shed
Smells of paramecium.
Everything under the big anxious sky
Asks why, why do you even bother?
You only charm feets.

Friday, March 25, 2005


Some select wisdom of children:

I wanted to grow up and become a marine biologist, which seemed to me the perfect combination of studying nature and shooting people.

I thought cologne would make me smell better when I drank it. After having my stomach pumped I was told otherwise.

I used to believe that I could be anything I wanted when I grew up. That's why I wanted to be an airport. My best friend wanted to be a firetruck.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Today I saw four spiders in all together within a couple cubic feet of each other, and to my eye, they all seemed to be different species, although maybe they were males and females of two different species. Two of them were jumping spiders, with similar colorings but different designs, and the other two were hiding-in-dead-leaf spiders, also rather different in appearance, one much bigger than the other. I couldn't get any good pictures of the hiding-in-leaf spiders, but the last picture here shows the leaf the bigger one was hiding in.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Shy Turtle

Shy Turtle
Originally uploaded by wildmansmee.

Tatu's herd

Tatu's herd
Originally uploaded by wildmansmee.
Tatu's long lost herd can be found in San Diego these days, grazing on marigolds (or whatever those are -- I'm afraid I'm not much of a botanist). You should come see them soon before they wander off like a herd of turtles or something.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

I really cleaned up this year

This year, I got four birthday cards (and one more I'm told is on the way), a voice mail, three emails (including one today from a friend I thought had fallen off the edge of the earth), my own very flattering birthday greeting blog post, and like, tons of loot, including several paper clips. I humbly thank all my loyal fans for a wonderful birthday.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Good thing I'm not entirely disorganized

This evening the alarm bell going off in my head periodically about doing a FAFSA finally resulted in my taking some action. A month or so ago, when I realized I might still be taking classes in the summer and fall, I tried to do a FAFSA, and discovered that I don't know what my FAFSA pin is. I must have had it last year about this time, but not anymore. So I had them send me another copy. Not to my email, no, that would be the sensible thing. I must have activated my pin back before the internet, because they don't have an email address attached to the pin record, and have to send it snail mail. Unfortunately, the snail mail address on the pin record is still Mum and Dad's place, five hours away. Fortunately, I was going up there the next week anyway. Unfortunately, it apparently takes the FAFSA people more than a week to find a pin number and mail it. Fortunately, it got there while I was up there. Unfortunately, I don't know what I've done with it now. I remember putting it safely away with my stuff, but I haven't seen it since. So this evening I went searching for the pin postcard. Guess what? Like I just said, I haven't seen it. I did find something interesting though. It's a driver's license renewal form, dated December 28, 2004, and it helpfully states across the top in bold caps, "RENEW EARLY TO RECEIVE YOUR NEW LICENSE BEFORE YOUR CURRENT LICENSE EXPIRES." That's interesting. When does my license expire? Oh. 03-03-05. Let's see, not 2003 March 5, as one might expect nor even, technically, is it 03 March 2005, but rather March 3, 2005. The day after the day after tomorrow. And since I haven't changed addresses (obviously I still receive important mail like bank statements and DMV renewal notices at that address), I am eligible to renew by internet, which I just did. Now, the question is, how long will it be before I receive my new license? (At my address 5 hours drive away from here. Slowlane, would you mind sending it along when it gets there? thanks for the card btw.) Interestingly enough, I then went to to find out when the filing deadline for that is, and discovered that the renewal deadline is now in June. How long has it been this way? Why has my alarm bell been going off about FAFSA for the last month? Oh yeah, because I needed to remember to file my driver's license renewal.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Wolly Pog is not my friend any more

Originally uploaded by wildmansmee.
Despite her small stature, Wolly Pog is an old dog. In her dotage, she has apparently developed an aversion to doing her business on wet and/or cold ground. This means that we will occasionally find little gifts on the carpet or right outside the door on the sidewalk. Also, her breath stinks, and she likes to lick hands and faces. One might think that these would be sufficiently ingratiating to leave her without friend or sympathizer, but I am a forbearing man. However, Pog the Incorrigible also has a habit of bolting her food (or at least the little meaty treats her owner puts on her food). Tuesday, as a result, she developed an upset stomach, and threw up in my bed. And a suprising quantity of slimy meaty treats can be held in that little belly. So, as they say, now she's in the doghouse.

Monday, January 31, 2005


I always thought I had two rather unique sisters, but now I'm beginning to doubt it. In the group of about 12 students I'm grading for this semester, one's name is 'Aileen' (spelled just like that!) and another's email is theslowlane@something-or-other. What gives?!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Alternative Views of Amphibian Toe-Clipping

What is your opinion of amphibian toe-clipping?

Okay, so the article itself isn't all that interesting, but the title caught my eye.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Torrey Pines Hike

A Pine
Originally uploaded by wildmansmee.
The Linguistics Students Association went on a hike this morning in Torrey Pines Preserve, and I've put up a few photos.

Friday, January 07, 2005


Today's word of the day is "thalamocortical", as in "The anterior cingulotomy, the subcaudate tractotomy and the interior capsulotomy entail an interruption of the thalamocortical paralimbic frontal network." Use "thalamocortical" three times today (or is it 21?) in context to make it part of your vocabulary.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Break From Rain

Originally uploaded by wildmansmee.
I forgot to post this yesterday. Ain't it beautiful?