Wednesday/ for Valentine’s Day 😘

Happy Valentine’s Day— for those that indulge in it.
Here is a cute cartoon from Stern magazine, and from the latest— and 40th— Asterix cartoon book series.
The series first appeared in the Franco-Belgian comic magazine Pilote on 29 October 1959.

Background: Chief Vitalstatistix is the chief of the Gaulish village. He is a middle-aged, bigbellied man with red hair, pigtails and a huge moustache. He is generally reasonable, well-informed, fearless, (comparatively) even-tempered and unambitious — the last much to the chagrin of his wife Impedimenta. His major failings are his love of good food and drink (it is unlikely to be a coincidence that his wife is the best cook in the village) — which has led to health problems — and his pride. -from Wikipedia
Der Kampf des Häuptlings
The Chief’s Battle

Impedimenta: Fällt etwas dir was auf?
Impedimenta: Do you notice anything?

Chief: Du hast überall muskelkater, weil du das bankett für heute abend vorbereitet hat?
Chief: You have sore muscles all over, because you prepared the banquet for tonight?

Impedimenta: Nein! Ich have mir ein neues Kleid gekauft!
Impedimenta: No! I bought myself a new dress!

Chief: Ach so, ja …
Chief: Oh yes, right …

Sunday/ Salaverry & Trujillo, Peru 🇵🇪

The Norwegian Sun made it into the port town of Salaverry at seven this morning (first picture).
There was a shuttle bus out to the main plaza in Salaverry (third picture), and from there my party of three were left to our own devices to find transport to the city of Trujillo (pop. about 1 million).
This whole area nearby is the site of the great prehistoric Moche and Chimu cultures before the Inca conquest and subsequent expansion.

We solicited a taxi for the 25-minute drive into Trujillo and all went well until we paid the driver in US dollars. Best we could tell that he was not happy with the quality of the $20 and two $5 dollar bills. The US dollars have to be changed into Peruvian Sol by moneychangers for him. Anyway, we gave him the newest dollar bills we had, and that solved the problem.

We used Uber to get back. That was cheaper and worked a lot better: no exchange of paper money needed.

Look for the Plaza de Armas of Trujillo in the pictures below, with the Freedom Monument and the Cathedral of Trujillo nearby.
The beautiful building of UNT Archeology Museum and pictures of just a few of the displays inside, follow after that.

Thursday/ ‘I’ in Japanese 🏯

Here is Eric Margolis writing for the Japan Times (just the introduction of a long article):
You may have learned that “I” is 私 (watashi). And while this is a handy all-around term to use when referring to yourself, a 2019 survey showed that over 30% of Japanese women and around 70% of Japanese men don’t regularly use it.
To make things even more confusing, people do or don’t use 私 entirely depending on the situation. While 80% of women in their 50s expected to use 私 to address colleagues or acquaintances their own age, just 30% expected to use it for people they met for the first time. Meanwhile, 60% of men in their 50s expected to use it when meeting a young person for the first time. But that percentage dropped to 40% of the time when they were meeting someone their own age.
Japanese dictionaries and resources list over 30 different words for just one in English: “I”. Every word expresses different nuances about how the speaker views themselves and what their relationship is to the person they’re speaking with. There’s わたし (watashi), わたくし (watakushi), あたし (atashi), 僕 (boku), 吾輩 (wagahai), 俺 (ore), うち (uchi), 儂 (washi), 麿 (maro) and 自分 (jibun), just to name a few. So how to know which one to use?

P.S. I would have loved to be in Japan right now, at the tennis courts watching some Japan Open tennis action.

Posted by The Japan Times on X, today.

Tuesday/ a full moon 🌕

Toe Vader slaap, toe Moeder droom,
is ek uit by die hek langs die appelboom.
En ek ry op die spierwit perd se rug
bo-oor die heinings en bo-oor die brug.
En niemand weet dat ek daar was
met elwekinders op die gras.

As Father slept, as Mother dreamed,
I slipped out the gate by the apple tree.
I rode on the back of the snow-white horse
over the hedge and over the gorge.
And on no one ever, will it dawn
that I’d been there with elven children, on the lawn.

– From ‘Die Spree met Foete’, reworkings of Annie M.G. Schmidt’s Dutch verses into Afrikaans, 2002.
Verses by Piet Grobler and artwork by Philip de Vos.
The rough translation into English is my own.

August is here, with a full moon tonight.

There are two full moons this August, both of which are supermoons—
The Sturgeon Moon that reaches its peak today, August 1st;
The Blue Moon that occurs on Wednesday, August 30th.

Another Monday/ tick tock ⏰

I’m just going to play Wordle and Scrabble and Duolingo and ignore the news until the debt-ceiling hostage situation at the Capitol is resolved.
(The Republicans with their fake outrage over spending seem determined to crash the world economy).

Here’s my Wordle attempt for today. I lucked out by guessing MIAOU for the second word (to try all the vowels after finding out there is no E). It took me a long time to guess IGLOO, though: I thought of IDIOT IDIOM INBOX INGOT, all of which have letters already known not to be in the solution, and then had to take a break and come back.
As for IGLOO, here’s Wikipedia—
An igloo (Inuit languages: iglu) is a type of shelter built of suitable snow. Although igloos are often associated with all Inuit, they were traditionally used only by the people of Canada’s Central Arctic and the Qaanaaq area of Greenland. Other Inuit tended to use snow to insulate their houses, which were constructed from whalebone and hides. Snow is used because the air pockets trapped in it make it an insulator. On the outside, temperatures may be as low as −45 °C (−49 °F), but on the inside, the temperature may range from −7 to 16 °C (19 to 61 °F) when warmed by body heat alone.

Sunday/ a few new words 🤔

Ready to learn a few new words in the English language?
Take a quick look at the Scrabble board and see if you know all the words!

Zoey is the Grandmaster level of the Scrabble program I play against. I win about 1 out of 3 or 4 games, but I was soundly beaten this time.

ULU all-purpose knife traditionally used by Inuit, Iñupiat, Yupik, and Aleut women.
NIXY a misaddressed or illegibly addressed piece of mail, therefore undeliverable.
FLINT hard, dark quartz that produces a spark when struck by steel
TALAR an ankle-length robe
ZERO the arithmetical symbol 0, nil
KEEF (Arabic) a state of dreamy intoxication, induced by cannabis for example
KI alternate spelling for qi: the vital energy that is held to animate the body internally and is of central importance in some Eastern systems of medical treatment (such as acupuncture) and of exercise or self-defense (such as tai chi)
EX one that formerly held a specified position or place, especially : a former spouse or former partner in an intimate relationship
MADAME a title equivalent to Mrs. for a married woman not of English-speaking nationality
QUINT one of five offspring produced in the same pregnancy
QUEY (British) cow, heifer
GALAGO a small primate (a bush baby)
LIPAS a monetary subunit of the Croatian kuna (plural)
RID to make free of
BREECH (verb) to dress in short pants (covering the hips and thighs and fitting snugly at the lower edges at or just below the knee)
BI short form of bisexual
PATERNITY the quality or state of being a father
YINCE (Scottish) once
LAM sudden or hurried flight especially from the law, as in ‘on the lam’
RETS to soak (something, such as flax or hemp) to loosen the fiber from the woody tissue
OTIOSE producing no useful result, futile
JINKED make a quick, evasive turn (past tense)
VISIVE (archaic) of, relating to, or serving for visionand
OBOE a double-reed woodwind instrument having a conical tube
HO interjection, used especially to attract attention to something specified
DONATORS donor, one that gives, donates, or presents something (plural)
OPA grandfather
AR the letter R
GAPER one that gapes, also: any of several large sluggish burrowing clams
ODAH (Turkish) a room in a harem
DAW (Scottish) dawn

Sunday/ a poem about a fossil II 📱

Here it is, an AI*-generated poem about a fossil :
*ChatGPT Mar 23 Version, at


There was a ‘Regenerate’ button on the side, on which I clicked.
Instantly, a second poem was generated, line by line.
‘Was this better, worse or the same as the first one?’ inquired the AI chatbot.
‘Better’, I said.

Tuesday/ a poem for a dinosaur 🦕

I found a poem in one of my books that came yesterday— one that is apt for the dinosaur from German toymaker Scheich that I had brought home in my suitcase.

Versteende geheime skuil
in jou primordiale hart.
Hier waar die jakkals nou huil
het oerdier vir oermens getart.

Petrified secrets hide away
in your primordial heart.
Here where the jackal howls today,
primeval beast gave caveman a start.

Original Afrikaans poem by Isaac David du Plessis, published 1965.
The rough translation into English is my own.

Once this dinosaur had its teeth in you and shut its movable jaws, there was no escape. Monolophosaurus was a genus of tetanuran (stiff-tailed) theropod (hollow bones, three toes & a claw on each limb) dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic Shishugou Formation in what is now Xinjiang, China.
It was named for the single crest on top of its skull. They lived about 165 million years ago. Weight about 1,000 pounds (425 kg) and length about 18 ft (5 m).

Monday/ books from afar 📚

While I was in South Africa, I shipped myself a box of books to Seattle from Pretoria, and another box from Stellenbosch*.
The boxes landed on my porch today.  They went from South Africa to London’s Heathrow airport, then to Cincinnati, Ohio, and then to Seattle.

*The Protea bookstore in Stellenbosch —always full of new and old Afrikaans books— was going out of business, and I could not pass up the opportunity to scoop up fifty-some books for $1 or $2 apiece.

A box full of books is HEAVY, so the shipping by air (DHL) was expensive: several hundred dollars. It was still completely worth it. Ground shipping takes several months and it’s just not reliable (your package might never show up). 
The book with H.A.T. on the cover is a monolingual Afrikaans dictionary (‘Handbook of the Afrikaans Language’).
I read the little green book as a first grader.

Saturday/ good, better, butter 🧈

We logged another 95 °F (35 °C) for the day’s high here in Seattle.

Help! My butter is melting.
(I removed the lid of the butter dish for the picture .. and putting the butter in the fridge would be a last resort. I hate cold, hard butter).
Some time ago, a  car journalist remarked of the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric car, that  its acceleration is a little rough; not buttery smooth as is the case with Tesla’s cars.

Just for fun, here are some Afrikaans expressions and idioms that use ‘butter’.

Ek het met my gat in die botter geval.
Translation: I have stumbled, with my butt stuck in the butter.
Meaning: I lucked out, in a big way. 

My brood is aan altwee kante gebotter.
Translation: My bread is buttered both sides.
Meaning: I have the best of both worlds.

Dis botter tot die boom.
Translation: It is butter to the bottom.
Meaning: Said of a friendship that is thick as thieves.

Goed, beter, botter.
Translation: Good, better, butter.
Meaning: Slogan from a ’70s ad campaign for butter in South Africa. Butter is better than margarine, and is actually best of all.

Monday/ butter cookies, in 6 languages

I love packaging that has multiple languages on.
The fine print makes for free little language lessons that come with the product.

Little Butter Biscuits, Organic. My friends bought these cookies for me in Brittany, France, where they were actually made as well (‘Produit en Bretagne’). The packaging comes with a nice cartoon (are the lady & pooch just content, or are they a little haughty?) .. and there are descriptions of the cookies in French, English, German, Spanish and Dutch .. and Arabic! Whoah.  Nicely done.

Saturday/ finding the Wortel 🥕

I don’t know why I took so long to check again if there is an Afrikaans version of Wordle.
There has been one since February, actually⁠— created by South African software developer Francois Botha.
It is called Wortel.
(Eng. carrot;
originally from Dutch wortel,
from Middle Dutch wortele,
from Old Dutch *wurtala,
from Proto-Germanic *wurt– “root” + *waluz “stick”).

Here’s my first attempt. I can post the solution since it’s now past midnight in South Africa.

The 26 characters are not quite sufficient for all Afrikaans words. Some regular words have vowels with carets or diaereses (ë ê î ï ô û) and maybe these should be shown as character keys on the keyboard below. I have seen a version of German Wordle that does that. For now this Wortel game accepts GEEET, GEETS as a valid guesses, for GEËET,  GEËTS (Eng. past participles of eat and etch).


TREIN – train
ASIEL – asylum
GELEI – conduct (electricity)
GLOEI – glow

Saturday/ a little Ukrainian

I ran into this 2018 set of Ukrainian stamps while researching the stamp with the Russian warship on (Thursday’s post).
The characters are too cute for words (but each has a letter, and a word, nonetheless).

I compiled the table below with a little help from Google Translate.
ЕНЕЛЯТКО stumped it, though : a word that has to be Ukrainian for alien or extraterrestrial.
ҐАВА was also a problem; must be raven, I thought⁠— but another online translator indicated it is crow.
ПИРОГИ looked like hats in the tree, but turned out to be pyroghie pies, in fact.

UKRANIAN ALPHABET, says the lettering at the top. The modern Ukrainian alphabet consists of 33 letters. The set of letters is one of several national variations of the Cyrillic script.

Wednesday/ the Gazpacho Police .. are coming for our mazel tov cocktails

Marjorie Taylor Greene loves to propagate conspiracy theories, even though she is actually a sitting member of Congress. She represents Georgia’s District 14 in the House of Representatives. Hey Georgia: you can do better than this. November 2022 is your chance.

New: House Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene is railing against Pelosi’s “gazpacho police” — intending to refer to the Nazi Gestapo, itself a nonsense comparison, but instead referring to a cold tomato soup.
-Hugo Lowell @hugolowell on Twitter

Just to clear things up, @RepMTG
Gazpacho: a vegetable-based Spanish cold soup
Gestapo: Nazi Germany’s secret police
-The Republican Accountability Project @AccountableGOP

With the Gazpacho Police, every crime is a cold case
-Adam Blickstein@ AdamBlickstein

I hope all you Progressos out there are having a fun time
-George Conway aka Oficial de Policía de Gazpacho Conway @gtconway3d

I’ve met some members of the gazpacho police. They are consommé professionals.
-Danielle Decker Jones @djtweets

The Gazpacho Police have just chopped an unarmed tomato.
-Wajahat Ali@ WajahatAli

It won’t be funny when the Gazpacho police give you the burp walk.
-JoeReynoldsChief @JoeReynolds2020

Marjorie Taylor Greene, in condemning the harsh conditions facing the insurrectionists arrested on January 6, is comparing what they’re experiencing to what she read in Solzhenitsyn’s monumental work The Goulash Archipelago*.
-Peter Wehner @Peter_Wehner

*Greene contended that Washington DC jails are ‘DC gulags’.
The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (Russian: Архипелаг ГУЛАГ, Arkhipelag GULAG) is a three-volume non-fiction text written between 1958 and 1968 by Russian writer and Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It was first published in 1973, and translated into English and French the following year. It covers life in what is often known as the Gulag, the Soviet forced labor camp system, through a narrative constructed from various sources including reports, interviews, statements, diaries, legal documents, and Solzhenitsyn’s own experience as a Gulag prisoner.

Friday/ lost in translation

Well, I never would have thought this.
It appears to me that we don’t have a word in Afrikaans for .. icicle.
I was stumped, and I stumped every online English-Afrikaans translator in my search for one.

The Dutch word is ijskegel (ice cone), and therefore I would go with yskegel in Afrikaans.

Drip, drip, drip. Icicles by my back door.
Watch out below — for blobs of ice water, or little spears of ice, coming down.

Wednesday/ PRITHEE, don’t play that word

I was feeling invincible with my triple-triple word play of DIGAMIES (158 points- yowza!) .. but just then Zoey* swooped in with PRITHEE to come out ahead in this Scrabble game.

*Zoey is a Scrabble grandmaster bot.

Here’s a rundown of some of the words on the board.
VIZARDnoun (archaic)  a mask or disguise.
DROITnoun (historical, law)  a right or due.
PRITHEEexclamation (archaic)  please (used to convey a polite request).
“prithee, Jack, answer me honestly”
Scottish form of no (determiner).
“it’s nae bother”
Scottish form of no (exclamation).
“He was asked if he was ever going back east. ‘Nae, son,’ he replied”
1. Scottish form of not (adverb).
“it’s nae as guid as whiskey”
2. Scottish form of no (adverb).
“we were just bairns, nae aulder than you lassies are”
QUERNSnoun (plural of quern)   a simple hand mill for grinding grain, typically consisting of two circular stones, the upper of which is rotated or rubbed to and fro on the lower one.
DIGAMIESnoun (plural of digamy)  a second marriage, after the death or divorce of the first husband or wife.
YAGnoun   a synthetic crystal of yttrium aluminum garnet, used in certain lasers and as an imitation diamond in jewelry.
LOGEnoun   a private box or enclosure in a theater; the front section of the first balcony in a theater.
PYICadjective of or belonging to pus; purulent.
PALInoun (in Hawaii) a cliff.
VROWSnoun (plural of vrow), 1 : a Dutch or Afrikaner woman.  2 : mistress —usually used preceding the name of a Dutch or Afrikaner married woman.

Tuesday/ sneaking up from behind, for the win

Here’s the board of one of the few games I have won recently against Scrabble Grand Master Zoey (she is an algorithm).

I was sitting on 402, with my last letter, the ‘I’ tile left. TI and IS in the corner would have gotten me 6, but KI was one better at 7. So now I had 409. Oh well, I lose, I thought, but forgot to note that Zoey was stuck with the Q (with no way to play it). So she lost 10 and I gained 10, for a net gain of 20, and for the win 429-427. A sweet victory.

I looked up some of the words that Zoey played, the ones I didn’t know.
I don’t do that for every Scrabble game (I am too lazy, and besides: it cuts into my Scrabble play time).

Here are the words, for the logophiles (persons that love words):
NOES noun plural of the negative response called ‘no’
PLOTTIER adjective superlative of plotty (marked by intricacy of plot or intrigue), as in ‘this spy movie was plottier than the last one’
a plotty novel
MEH interjection— used to express indifference or mild disappointment
ZA noun slang for PIZZA (a word which my friends & I never use)
ALUNITE noun a mineral that consists of a hydrous potassium aluminum sulfate and occurs in massive form or in rhombohedral crystals
KI noun 1. alternative spelling for chi, the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet; 2. also: aura, chi (or ch’i also qi), energy, vibe(s), vibration(s), as in ‘martial artists learn to use ki to fend off would-be attackers’
LUX noun a unit of illumination
JERRID noun (British English) a blunt wooden javelin used in games involving horsemen in some Muslim countries.
DEVI noun used in India as a title following the personal name of a married woman (in Hinduism)
AR noun the letter r written out
FAH noun abbreviation of Fahrenheit
WYES noun plural 1. a Y-shaped part or object 2. the letter y written out
CONI noun plural of conus, a very large genus (the type of the family Conidae) of tropical marine snails comprising the cones and including many harmless forms and a few chiefly in the southwest Pacific that are highly dangerous because they are capable of biting with the radula and injecting a paralytic venom that has been known to cause death in humans
DIPLEGIAS noun, plural, paralysis of corresponding parts on both sides of the body

Note to self: when next in Australia, never mind COVID, just steer clear of the Australian cone snail (Conus textile) with its gorgeous shell. This one has its proboscis extended and poised for attack. Their venom (active ingredient: conotoxin) is used for paralyzing prey. Researchers in Australia think they can use it to produce a safe painkiller for humans, 100x more potent than morphine.
[Image credit: AAP Image/Melbourne University/David Paul]

Sunday/ pomp and circumstance

Pomp and circumstance: impressive formal activities or ceremonies (Merriam-Webster dictionary).
Beefeater: Beef + eater. Prob. one who eats another’s beef, as his servant. Could also be from:  hlāfǣta, servant, properly a loaf eater. (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary).
Beefeaters are the yeomen of the English royal guard, who, since the accession of Henry VII. in 1485, have attended the sovereign at state banquets and on other ceremonial occasions.
The name is also given to the warders of the Tower of London, who wear a similar uniform.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND – JUNE 13: Queen Elizabeth II (center), US President Joe Biden (right) and US First Lady Dr Jill Biden (left) at Windsor Castle on June 13, 2021 in Windsor, England. Queen Elizabeth II hosted US President, Joe Biden and First Lady Dr Jill Biden at Windsor Castle. The President arrived from Cornwall where he attended the G7 Leader’s Summit.
By Sunday night he had arrived in Brussels, for a meeting of NATO Allies. Later in the week he will meet the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. (Photo by Samir Hussein – Pool/Wire Image)

Queen Elizabeth II received President Biden and First Lady Dr Jill Biden at Windsor castle today. ‘President Biden and the first lady seemed relaxed, and there were no obvious diplomatic breaches‘ reported the New York Times.
Yes. Like stepping in front of the Queen. Or tweeting about the Prince of ‘a group of large marine mammals’ (‘Whales’).

Monday/ contemplating personal plates

Washington State, as most other states, allow vehicle owners to personalize their license plates — for an extra license renewal fee, of course. I think it’s $80 per year.

I’ve been there, and had done that, with my two Toyota Camrys:  just the letters for my name or a slight variation of that (not very imaginative, but definitely personalized).
The last number of years I had just gone with the randomly assigned plate number issued to me by the licensing agent for Washington State DOT.

Now with my super high-tech and exciting electric car on the way, I’m tempted to go for it again.

Here’s a rundown of some possibilities.

The plates in the leftmost column are all taken, per the licensing website, so those are not available! Those in the 2nd and 3rd columns still are.

BLIKSEM Let me help with the decoding here. BLIKSEM (say ‘blɪksəm’) is the evergreen favorite of personalized car plates for South Africans. It’s Afrikaans for ‘lightning’. It is also an expression of surprise, or shock, or disgust, and slang for ‘rogue’ or ‘devilish-but-maybe-still-likeable person’, as in  Man! Did you do that? You are a BLIKSEM!  BLITS (say ‘blitz’) means ‘lightning’ or ‘very fast thing’.

WATTSUP, NOWWATT WATT is the SI unit of power/ electric power. I thought of AMPERE3 and VOLT3 as well. VOLT is the name of Chevrolet’s 2011–2019 electric car, and not ideal to use, though.

3SACHRM Short for ‘Three’s a charm’ (third time is a charm). Three for Model 3, with the SA in there for South Africa, let’s say. And —very obscure, I will admit — a charm quark is a sub-atomic particle, found in protons and neutrons (but not in electrons).

VUVUZLA Vuvuzela, a long horn blown by fans at soccer matches in South Africa. Made famous during the World Cup of 2010 in South Africa.

10SNE1 Tennis anyone?

JENESQA Je ne sais quoi, the French expression for ‘that certain something’ (such as an appealing quality), that cannot be adequately described or expressed with any other words. Unfortunately, some people might think there is also a QANon conspiracy theory in there.

Monday/ an unusual Scrabble ending

This Scrabble game of me against ‘CPU’ (central processing unit) had an unusual ending: the computer had to pass the last 5 turns. It could not find a way to put even one of its 7 remaining tiles on the board.

I figured out which the final letters on CPU’s rack were: A A I I O O V Y. So yes, not a lot to work with. Even so, CPU still managed to beat me by a wide margin, 420-336. Earlier on, it had built two 7-letter words,  GEMLIKE and TERNION, for 50 bonus points each.

Here are the meanings of some of the more unusual words on the board:
GI: a lightweight two-piece white garment worn in judo and other martial arts.
TERNION: the number three; three things together; a ternary or triplet.
JEHADIS: (plural) a person involved in a jihad; an Islamic militant.
TOFT: a site for a dwelling and its outbuildings; an entire holding comprising a homestead and additional land.
QIS: (plural) the circulating life force whose existence and properties are the basis of much Chinese philosophy and medicine.
TREMS: (plural) short form of tremolo (arm) on a guitar, a lever attached to the bridge of an electric guitar and used to vary the pitch of a note.
IGG: (slang) to ignore or snub (someone); a snub or rebuff.
FET: short form (acronym) for field-effect transistor, a transistor in which most current flows in a channel whose effective resistance can be controlled by a transverse electric field.
PERVO: (slang) a sexual pervert.

My final turn: building GI for 3. The machine is stuck with A A I I O O V Y totaling a face value of 13 – so that gets deducted from its score, and added to mine. I still lose by 74 points but hey, there is always a next time.