Archive for January, 2010

Fun with Names

January 21, 2010

I have this ‘plan’ to translate some of the James Blish novelizations of Star Trek Episodes (classic Trek) into Esperanto. I want to do this purely for recreational reasons. The only problem I think I’m going to have is figuring  out how to deal with the character names.

Probably the very best way to deal with this would be to write them exactly as they are in English and put a small pronunciation key at the end for those people totally unfamiliar with ‘western’ names. That would be ‘IF’ I were writing this for publication.

But what if I were to transliterate the names? How would they change? ‘Uhura and Sulu go unchanged and even the pronunciation in Esperanto is virtually identical. Chekov would become Ĉekov, Spock would be Spok, Scott (Scotty) would become Skot (Skoĉjo). Mcoy becomes Mikoj. Probably the most troublesome would be James T. Kirk.

1) The biblical form of ‘James’ is ‘Jakob’. I’d likely meet great resistance  calling the Captain of the Enterprise Jakob T. Kirk (pronounced keerk). If I left the name alone, without a guide to non-Westerners, they would pronounce ‘James’ as ‘Yah mess’. If I simply transliterated(?) it It would look like ‘Ĝejmz’, Ĝejmz’ or Ĝemz, Ĵemz. Not exactly smooth. eh?

So I think that when I tackle that project (railroad book comes first,) I’ll leave the names be and figure there would be a pronunciation guide in the end.

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Fortunate Me

January 19, 2010

When I was going to grade school, I never realized how lucky I was. Having seen the two schools my wife has taught at and my daughter’s school, I now realize I really had it good (as far as school buildings go.)

My grade school was built the same year I was born, so it was a mere 5 years old when I was enrolled in Kindergarten. We had 2 kindergarten class rooms and they were each self contained with a walk-through coat closet and boy and girl bathrooms. Even our paved play yard was separated from that of the ‘big’ kids. There was a center island in front of the coat room with a big basin sink and a water fountain.  All this was in our room.

From first through fourth grade we used classrooms on the first floor. Each room had a basin sink with a water fountain. We had a coat closet and a rolling tool card called ‘T4C’ (Technology for Children) Memories of this cart are why I’ll be teaching my daughter a bit about tools and woodworking this spring..) Our bathrooms were located in the center of the wing and the boys room sported automatically flushing urinals. They worked on a counting button on the door.  I know this because I once saw one of my classmates climb up and press the button continually to make them flush.

The grades 5&6 were on the second floor, along with a special room for what we used to call ‘retarded’ kids.  Except for bathroom calls, they stayed in their room which was even equipped with a kitchenette. I presume they ventured out to go to the gymnasium.

The ‘Specials’ wing had an all purpose room which served both as the gymnasium, auditorium and lunchroom.  The tables and benches folded up into niches in the walls.  It was neat to see it done. The janitor had a special key that unlocked them from the wall. This room also had a stage at one end.

We also had a dedicated chorus/general music room and a band room.

An addition was put on this building some years ago, so I can’t vouch for its continued efficiency.  One can hope.

Anyway, I think about these things because my daughter’s and my wife’s schools both have bathrooms that look like they just happened, not planned in their current spaces. I’ve always heard how this or that closet was converted to a classroom. I was truly lucky in my childhood to have a nice new efficiently designed school. About the only thing I could say bad about my school was that the flat roof leaked in hard rain.  Who convinced them that a flat roof was a good idea in New Jersey I shall never know.

Betwixt and Between

January 19, 2010

Sometimes I feel that I choose my hobbies poorly. They seem to contradict each other. I like to register my paper money on WheresGeorge.com, but I also strive not to have singles (Georges) because I try to use dollar coins wherever possible. Also, I occasionally stamp an ‘ad’ for dollar coins on the reverse of my singles in the hope it will spur someone on to asking their bank for dollar coins (and then hoping they will use them, thus getting them into circulation a bit more.)

I’m also an Esperantist and a Lutheran (Missouri Synod). Esperantists tend to be left leaning folks. Lutherans (Missouri Synod) tend to be right of center on many things. This puts me at odds (in my mind) with those who speak Esperanto. (One of my fellow Esperantists was ranting away one on politics and indirectly called me a fascist.  (He didn’t know my political leanings at the time.))

This of course puts me about where I’ve always been, on the outside of the group. I’m even on the fringe of my railroad buddies because I specialize in the railroad stations, not on the locomotives.  Ah well, Jen la vivo.

A Jar of Coins

January 8, 2010

For whatever reason we had this mason jar half full of ‘weird’ coins on our dresser.  It was there for years. I’m not sure how it got started or even where many of the coins came from in the first place.

Last night I decided to go through this jar of coins and sort it out. I spread them out on the kitchen table and started looking them over with my magnifying glass. A bunch of them were wheat-back cents, a very few were strictly normal money.  I found a few bridge tokens and one commemorative ‘Sears’ coin. I found a few from Britain, Germany, and Japan. I even found at least one each from Isreal, Saudi Arabia, and Luxemburg. I have no idea where we got these, but in all I must have found one from 15 countries.

I’ve placed them in envelopes and put them with my other odd coins. Now the jar is empty. Maybe they’ll be worth something when my daughter is old and gray.

I Found ‘George’

January 6, 2010

Today I went to our local Weis supermarket to pick up some supplies: bread, milk, tissues. I received as change from the self-checkout a 5 dollar bill marked for ‘Where’s George’ This is the first one I’ve seen since I became a ‘Georger’. With anticipation I drove home, put the groceries away and came down to the computer. This bill is rather folded and wrinkled, where could it have traveled in its life?

I entered the denomination, series date and serial number into ‘Where’sGeorge.com‘ and lo and behold, a hit.  This bill started in the state of Delaware. That’s it. Darn.

On the other hand, so far I’ve never casually met an Esperantist while out and about, so perhaps this hobby isn’t quite as obscure as Esperanto.

Automobile Tailpipes

January 4, 2010

Has anyone ever come to the conclusion that cars are not designed with convenience or efficiency in mind? All automobiles have tailpipes which spew unbreathable exhaust in the outward direction. It might seem, or apparently is an industry standard, to have the exhaust pipe face outward out the rear of the car. Unfortunately in bumper to bumper traffic or at stop lights this causes the fumes to spew out into the intake vents of the car behind, thus filling the car behind with exhaust, unless the venting system is in the ‘closed’ position.

Some of these cars have the exhaust pipe on the curb side and some on the ‘street’ side (it was almost even according to a quick survey I took through Google Images.)

I’m wondering if there isn’t some reason the exhaust pipes on all or many autos couldn’t be aimed out the side of the car in the back on the street side.  This would also eliminate the joyousness of standing on the curb as a pedestrian and having an automobile exhaust pipe spew smoke at you.

Just a thought.

Numismatists will Hate Me.

January 3, 2010

Occasionally I buy a roll of dollar coins from our bank for spending. The roll is deceptively small looking as the coins are all stacked neatly in a roll. When one opens the roll, however, the coins come out in a pile which can barely be kept in your hand.  There’s only 25 in a roll, but it seems like so many!

Because these rolls are uncirculated, straight from the mint, they are brand new.  They look it, all shiny and bright. Even though they are a gold color, they don’t look real at first glance because they are so very bright and clean. I’ve been trying to find a way to age some of my coins, to get them that ‘circulated patina’.

A civil war re-enactors group member said that some of the ‘guys’ use uric acid (urine) to age their brass buttons. The composition of the dollar coins is basically brass, so that would undoubtedly work. I’ve found 2 other methods which are a)cleaner, and b) faster.

The first is simply to put them in the center of your stove’s gas burner. They come out darker, almost too dark. A bit of a polishing with Brasso will bring them back a bit. (Don’t go too far, or you’ll be back to shiny newness.) The second way is to put a pool chlorine tablet in some water, day a cup and put the coins in the water. This will ‘age’ them so severe;y in just a few hours that they will look like part of a pirate treasure that spend years on the ocean floor.