Mugwumps and Lexicons

“I guess I should warn you, if I turn out to be particularly clear, you’ve probably misunderstood what I’ve said.”
Alan Greenspan

I have been endeavoring as of late to expand my vocabulary.  After writing over one hundred posts I am coming to a point in the road where I keep bumping into the same words over and over and I am discovering what my regular readers probably have already observed: my vocabulary is limited, quite limited and if I keep using the same words as “quite” and “great” all the time will never be great and that is quite true.

I find I have ideas that are of a certain nature or complexity to where it is difficult to convey them with my limitations. I liken this to an artist who paints with only a limited palate. The world is much too colorful to interpret with my measly set of 12 childhood watercolors.

I am mostly self-taught. I didn’t pay much attention in school the few times I went to class.  I graduated by being a really good test taker. I thought I was clever at the time. I know how much I missed out…

I’ve made up for my lack of formalized education with a lot of unformalized education. I have consumed many books on many subjects over a twenty year span, mostly non fiction with some Sci-Fi as a sort of side dressing. I think this has helped and hindered me as a writer. I have learned an array of knowledge in a wide variety of subjects. I have never been forced to pick just one field of study; I have gone merrily on my way with only my insatiable curiosity as a guide. I believe this gives me a unique overview that helps me see the bigger picture of everything and how it’s all connected.

However, non-fiction books can get pretty dry, their writers do not usually use extra words. Most are attempting to explain technical issues and many are learned people with umpteen degrees.  It is the rare gem of a writer that can convey reams of information with the style and grace of a talented wordsmith.

Although life has forced me to read a few of the “Classics”, I have generally avoided them like the plague.

The few literary influences I do have: Shakespeare, Seuss and Poe do make for an interesting mix but beyond my inventing of them, I need new words. I am bored with myself and need a shake up.

I’ve been reading word power books and the like, finding the odd tasty morsel here and there. I don’t have to tell any reader of the English language that there are a lot of odd words. I am earnest and I am learning. (I can feel my vocabulary swelling as I write this.)

I am no Logophobe and I am embracing my new-found Lexicology with an ebullience that is so ebullient that I am close to exploding with new words that I cannot wait to use!

Words such as mundungus, muzhik and mugwump!  And other beauties such as musth and moxibustion!  My mind is swimming with new shades and hues.

Just how I will fit bad-smelling tobacco, Russian peasants and a great man with a Chinese method of treating various conditions by burning an herbal mixture on parts of the body together with a male elephant or camel in a state of frenzy, is beyond me at the moment, but I’m sure it could make for some interesting but, perhaps confusing reading.

“Take two, they’re small…”

I would elucidate, however; it is not unambiguous to me. I beseech you, please do not cachinnate at my personage.

As long as everyone is on board with that…

This reminds me of a colorful character:  Federal Reserve Board chair Alan Greenspan and his famous, or should I say infamous “Greenspeak a carefully rehearsed cryptic language described as an “indecipherable, Delphic dialect” and ” a turgid dialect of English” that makes intentionally wordy, vague, and ambiguous statements.

“… And so you construct what we used to call Fed-speak….I would catch myself in the middle of a sentence. Then, instead of just stopping, I would continue on resolving the sentence in some obscure way which made it incomprehensible. But nobody was quite sure I wasn’t saying something profound when I wasn’t…”

(Greenspan in an interview with BusinessWeek in August 2012)

I could stand to be a little more like Greenspan, that colorful “mugwump”. I would know ALL the words and I would use every one in my quest to become the most successful writer of all time. HAHA!

(Stand back! I am mad with power, Wordpower!)

or should I say: Videte et Ego sum demens cum potestate, Verbum potentia!)

(By the way…I have also found Google translate!)

Sometimes words can get in the way of what you’re trying to say. Words can be distracting and detracting. I suppose there’s a fine line, Just like everything else.  Oh well, such is life!

Ĝis poste!

Strawberryindigo.

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Streetmusic

Here I am in the middle of downtown Portland. The city is alive and pulsating with  creative energy and the streets are filled with happy people in a festive mood. I am one of those happy people walking in the fresh sunshine on a noticeably warm Saturday.

It is akin to a carnival atmosphere out here among the sounds of the many street musicians that have chosen this perfect day to brighten the streets with their colorful music.

I walk in time to the rhythm of the beat, jumping off one curb and onto the next. There is a man playing the buckets at the end of the block. He’s putting on a pretty good show and hamming it up for an another, obviously delighted man and his daughter. The man continues; snapping pic after pic of the Bucket Drummer as I pass by.

I head for what I call Portland’s Dysfunctional Living Room.

 If you want to find some strange very Portland events and meet some very Portland people, with a liberal smattering of bewildered tourists, visit Pioneer Square. (It also has a thriving Starbucks by the way, if anyone is interested)

Today a band of teens backed up by giant refrigerators are setting up for what I imagine will be very cool display of teen angst pop accompanied by huge containers of milk. I wish I could stay but I must move on. I make a mental note to return to the Starbucks on the corner later but now I have important business.

I am on my way to The Portland Farmers Market to take in the good food and the fantastic atmosphere under the late summer trees at Portland State University.

It is a lively place with lots of beautiful food and a vast array of impromptu concerts in the park to keep one entertained.

These guys played some wicked bluegrass and I had to stop and snap some shots. They had CD’s for sale, I silently wished them luck and headed towards the glorious food.

l enjoy perusing fresh healthy food out in the open air with lots of friendly people around. Add trees and music to the scene and I am as content as can be. There is something about fruits and vegetables in the sun: the way they smell. The colors can be intoxicating as well and I cannot help but be in a good mood by this.

There is music everywhere! In addition to the market stage there are at least half a dozen acts playing sweet music under the trees in this lovely park on this lovely day in late September.

lt was all good and made a pleasant day even so much more so. I decided at that point that even good things must come to an end, besides it was getting close to closing time and I was looking to mainline some caffeine. I made my way back to the Starbucks, I ordered a tall one and sat outside near the front steps on a bench facing Nordstrom.

I like to people watch and this is an excellent location. I just sat there and took in the atmosphere…

…I did not notice at first. It was as if he just suddenly appeared.  On an empty street corner in front of the Nordstrom and there he was: in a faded and rumpled raincoat, playing on a ragged double bass , strings askew, bow clutched tight. His hair; long, blonde and dirty hanging in matted clumps partially obscuring his face which seemed remarkably unlined. His eyes were closed in deep concentration; each note was deeply felt , I could see it on his face.

The music was beautiful. Funny, I don’t remember the tune. It was classical and I recall it being familiar but that’s all. I do remember the sound. It was clear and sharp and amazingly beautiful. I don’t know how he got such a delicate sound from such a shoddy instrument but he did.

A crowd had formed around him. Maybe 10 or 12 people, each person with the same awestruck look. On another day, each one of us would have passed him by, not giving a moment’s notice to the rumpled and forgotten man huddled behind the bus stop or in some shadowy forgotten doorway.Homeless, probably mentally ill and alone, he had this one gift. This wonderful gift of music. It was likely he didn’t have much else, but he had this one thing and there he was sharing it with whomever would listen.

He played for what seemed like several minutes then stopped abruptly. He never asked for spare change. He had no sign displayed or an empty musical case as many of the street performers had. He had nothing and he asked for nothing.  We watched in silence as he stood up, picked up his instrument and his rickety stool and slowly made his way up the street never once looking back.

I never thought to take his picture. I had been snapping them all day but for some reason I didn’t think to snap his. I guess I thought it would disrupt the moment, that I might have angered him and sent him into a rage. I don’t know. I sound like a chicken but I bet I echo what others were thinking.

“Stay away from the crazy homeless person.”

No matter how beautiful his music may be. No matter that he awestruck a small crowd across the street from Portland’s Living Room.  No matter how his melodies brought tears to my eyes. No matter. He was a crazy street person and I like everyone else will just try to stay out of his way and pretend that he’s no there. I feel bad for thinking this…

I finish my tall black coffee and head out the door. Another has taken the place of the raincoated man. Must be a prime spot.

The new guy seems much more approachable but has yet to draw a crowd. That does not stop him from playing his heart out. I am moved by his pluck, so much so that I gather up some of my own and strike up a conversation with him. Being a shy socially awkward wannabe writer this is amazing and I am rewarded with a story and a song.

Ryan has been playing on the streets of Portland for 2 weeks. He loves it here but is surprised and a bit daunted by the skill level and sheer numbers of his competition. He too has a CD for sale and a blog…this surprises me.  I guess everyone has one these days. If you want to visit Ryan his blog is 16-dollars-a-day.bogspot.com.

Strawberryindigo.

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

Berthold  Auerbach

Never Underestimate the Value of Cash–Election 2012

But, shucks, we got the best politicians in this country that money can buy.”

Will Rogers

It is election day and after a long fight both sides should be exhausted after working feverishly around the clock, mostly in swing states, trying to reach those undecided voters. Meanwhile, the same politicos with the toothy white grins and the perfect spins are haunting the TV and Internets with images of big glossy maps of the United States decked out in blue and red with a touch of gray.  Always coming to the same conclusion, we are a nation divided. This is of no surprise and how this can be news is beyond me.

We in Oregon are often overlooked. We are quiet and quaint. Most people are distracted by the bright lights of California or Seattle. Politicians usually ignore us. At most we are a photo-op stop as Obama showed in 2008, we are a blue state and I live in a very blue county inside this blue state.

Romney hasn’t a chance here and he should know it but his constant barrage of commercials suggest otherwise. I’m relived that this whole mess is finally almost over.

(See the opinion of a future voter in the following You Tube video that’s making the rounds.)

Tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney

I think I may speak for all Americans when I say that I am sick to death of all these commercials and ads from both sides. To me it’s a waste. It shows how absolutely money crazy we are. If we have any national religion it is the worship of that–Money.  It’s holier than thou and it’s burning a hole in your pocket right now…

In our mixed up national psyche we are convinced that the candidate who raises the most money is the automatic winner.  Nothing else matters and it’s not as if anyone is holding bake sales to raise this money–they are getting it from the rich who have their own agenda and ideas which may not jive with most of us.

And why do they need the money…what do they spend it on? A great deal on those damn ads and flyers…

My mail has been inundated for weeks with thick glossy and expensive flyers proclaiming this and that. I have been bombarded with countess TV commercials–all with smiling politicians proclaiming this and that–supporting this message and that message.  Each proclaiming the other guy is wrong, very wrong even scary wrong.

Since my city of Portland is right on the border with Washington State we get their commercials too–this can get confusing and annoying.

 

The whole system is like that. It’s not just the presidential candidates or the Democrats or Republicans, it’s all of them.  Honestly, I am happy the people in the flyer factory have jobs and the media people do too and really kudos to the postal service.  I know all this money must be stimulating someone somewhere….Right?

I can’t help but wonder in my simplistic way that perhaps all this money spent on this mania could be spent on something more worthy… 

For instance: feeding hungry children or repairing crumbling bridges. How about training programs for the unemployed? How about jobs…not just lip-service trickle down jobs that live solely in campaign speeches but real jobs…perhaps via public works programs? How about it?

How about money for schools? or for disaster relief? I can think of a million worthy causes…

If I saw a politician spending “hard-earned” PAC money to feed the hungry and damn the consequences, I would have respect for that person–I’d be downright impressed and I’d listen to what that person had to say–regardless of party. I think a lot of people would as well. I also think that people are more independently minded than others may give them credit for.

This kind of do-gooding could create a buzz that would bring in the media with free advertising; a win-win situation for almost everyone…except for the ones with the deep pockets…the donors..the movers and the shakers…the ones attached to all that cold hard cash.  I ran across a list of them, it is HERE

I’ve read that between the two major candidates six billion dollars will be spent on this election, a new record. I can’t help but wonder what good that kind of money could do.

I did a little research…and six billion dollars goes a long way…

In The United States:  All that money could buy 200,000 average-priced cars…22,059 average-priced houses or…with six billion dollars 69,940 students could attend college for four years.

6 billion could buy one month’s worth of food for over 9 million families of four.

2 billion children could buy a warm coat with that amount of money and 6 billion dollars could definitely buy the world a coke…I could go on and on but you get the picture.

HAPPY ELECTION DAY!

Strawberryindigo.

References:

2012  Presidential Campaign Finance Explorer (Washingtonpost.com)

Does big money spell big trouble in campaigns? ( CNN.com)

Cost of Average Home (www.census.gov)

What’s the price tag for a college education? (Collegedata.com)

Average cost of a 4 year University (USATODAY.com)

USDA cost of food Sept. 2012 ( USDA.gov)

Cost of food at home (USDA.gov)

Fresh Quotes: November UNITY

It seems our world is more divided than ever. Is it that our basic human instinct is to exclude rather than include? Are we condemned to repeat mistakes of the past because we have this innate tribal mentality? This Us against Them streak  dominates our thinking.

Are we destined to only see the world in black or white?…blue or red?…this or that? left or right? Yes or no?

Or will we acknowledge the need to open our eyes to the whole spectrum of reality to all the colors?…not just the ones we can appreciate and see, but the one’s we do not see and especially the one’s we do not understand.

There are seven billion people on this planet: seven billion hearts and minds…and souls. And seven billion sides to a story, and in essence seven billion realities.

We are all unique individuals–each and every one of us, but we share a common thread that runs through us. We are all connected. I feel it. You probably feel it too.

We share this amazing fantastically beautiful life-giving planet with our fellow humans and all the lifeforms on Earth. This is our common cause.

We share so much and much of what we share is this need for unity.  Now more than ever…

Strawberryindigo.

I believe in the essential unity of man and, for that matter, in all that lives.”

Mohandas K. Gandhi

“The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.”

W.  Somerset Maugham

“Unity  is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be  achieved.”
Mattie  Stepanek

“The whole ocean is made of single drops.”

*Thomas Fuller*

“Every kingdom divided against itself is heading for ruin; and no town, no household divided against itself can stand.”

*Jesus*

WE CAN FIND COMMON GROUND ONLY BY MOVING TO HIGHER GROUND.”

Jim Wallis

“A choir is made up of many voices, including yours and mine. If one by one all go silent then all that will be left are the soloists.

Don’t let a loud few determine the nature of the sound. It makes for poor harmony and diminishes the song.” 
Vera Nazarian

It is not in our numbers but in unity that our great strength lies.”

Thomas Paine

“THERE IS NO THEY, ONLY US.”

(Anonymous)