Wednesday, May 25, 2016

paper magician

I love to fold things. I have mentioned this before. Fun Fact: It is a perplexing truth in my life that one can tell the degree of my inebriation by the amount of origami I leave behind.

It has always marveled me that paper can be changed into something so different just with a few folds.

I like folding so much that I even give modular paper origami balls as gifts. There is a Tibetan Lama, an ex-cop and a homeless woman, who all count themselves as part of the fortunate many that have received this type of gift from me.

My love for folding paper may cause the following book review to be a tad biased. Okay, A LOT biased.

I'd very much like to live in a world where The Paper Magician takes place.

This is a story about Ceony Twill. An entitled young magician who unwillingly gets dumped into a paper magic apprenticeship. Her mentor Emery Thane shows her the beauty of paper magic and by doing so Ceony begins to love both the magic folding craft and the man.

The setting I feel is in an alternative magic England. A world that seems to have a steampunk historical essence, but in a subdued way. Yet, it still feels modern. As if the world today was somehow stuck at the turn of the twentieth century. I validate this by wondering if we would have changed much during the industrial revolution if we had magic or would we have depended on magic to propel us into the future.

I feel much of what makes the book special would be a spoiler here. So, I will keep this short. For me I wasn't interested in the characters as much as the thematic power of the story. This comes in two parts.

1.) Simplicity can change the world. 
2.) People can love for no other reason than to love.

For me, the main character of this story wasn't Ceony or Emery, it was the paper heart. And to understand what that means, I suppose you would have to read the story.

Friday, May 13, 2016

love and goodbyes

I tell people I love them a lot. This is not to degrade love in anyway. This is to say that in many ways I have a capacity to love on many levels. I find it upsetting that we have few words for such a varied emotion. 

I remember my friend talking about a conversation he had with his girlfriend. He said, "She said I'm in-lust-with-you and I said it back..." How oddly definite of that feeling that goes beyond a simple crush. 

There are other times when I talk all about my "non-sexual-crushes". These crushes are on moments, things, sometimes people I want to bottle up and carry around in my pocket. I simply like these things more than is probably normal/healthy.

Sanskrit has 96 words for love. Even Tamil (a modern offshoot of Sanskrit roots) has at least 30 words for love.

  • aṇi (அணி) (sweet, closeness type of love) 
  • *aruḷ (அருள்) (love as grace) 
  • aḻi (அழி) - melt in love 
  • *aḷi (அளி) - love, aḷiyan = lover, (aḷiyē means 'Oh Love') 
  • This also comes from closeness, dearliness as love 
  • *aṉbu (அன்பு) (all encompassing Love in the deepest sense) 
  • āṇam (ஆணம்) (affection, feeling soul-embracing love) 
  • ārvam (ஆர்வம்) (pouring affection) 
  • imiḻ (இமிழ்) (loving bond, attachment, dear-bond, also means fullness of love) 
  • iḻai (இழை) (tender and kind love) 
  • iṉpam ( இன்பம்) (love in happiness or fulfilling relation) 
  • *īram (ஈரம்) (love, tender, soft-feeling towards another; also pity, compassion) 
  • *uruku (உருகு) (melting inside due to love) 
  • *uvakai (உவகை) (love in happiness or fulfilling relation) 
  • uḻuval (உழுவல்) (love soaked in deep feelings) 
  • uṟu (உறு) (the word உறவு = relation come from this) 
  • *kaṉivu (கனிவு) (tender, kind love) 
  • *kātal (காதல்) (Love. Most common word used for the love between man and woman, but it is also used for the feeling of man to God, passion for something etc.) 
  • takai (தகை) (graceful, kind affectionate love) 
  • taṇ (தண்) - தண்ணளி means deep, great love. (kind, affectionate love) 
  • *nacai (நசை) (fondness, dear love) 
  • *nēyam (நேயம்) (fondness, dear love) 
  • *naṇpu (நண்பு) - the word friend நண்பண் comes from this word 
  • nattu (நத்து) (wanting to be close out of love, loving feeling) 
  • nayappu (நயப்பு) - sweet love 
  • nār (நார்) [அன்பு. நலத்தின் கண் நாரின்மை தோன்றின் is a well-known Tirukkural line) (affectionate bond, love) 
  • niṇaṟu (நிணறு) (love in heart) 
  • neñcam (நெஞ்சம்) (love in heart) 
  • *nekkuruku (நெக்குருகு) (cascading melting due to love) 
  • ney (நெய்) (melting in the heart due to love) 
  • *nē (நே) (Love) 
  • nērcci (நேர்ச்சி) (Feeling of love) 
  • *paṟṟu (பற்று) (attachment, affection, love) 
  • *patti (பத்தி) ((attachment, affection, love, often towards God) 
  • piṇai (பிணை) (attachment, bond, love) 
  • *pācam (பாசம்) (feeling of deeply connected love) 
  • pukaṟci (புகற்சி) (feeling love; often talking, dwelling in this feeling) 
  • purivu (புரிவு) (kindness, love) 
  • peḷ, peṭpu (பெள், பெட்பு) (dearness of feeling as love) 
  • mātimai (மாதிமை) (love, attachment) 
  • māl (மால்) (love , desire.) 
  • māṉam (மானம்) (affectionate love) 
  • muttu (முத்து) (endearing love) 
  • muḻuval (முழுவல்) See உழுவல் above 
  • mēvu (மேவு) (to love, to desire, to embrace) 
  • maintu (மைந்து) (feeling love towards a woman) 
  • *maiyal (மையல் (Love- in man-woman ) 
  • vayavu (வயவு) (deep sense of attachment and love) 
  • vāram (வாரம்) (feeling of attachment, feeling of connected) 
  • *viruppam (விருப்பம் (longing, attachment, kind, love) 
  • viḻai (விழை) ( (longing, attachment, kind, love) 
  • *vēḷ (வேள் (love, endearing love, friendship)

But in English, all we have is love.
That bothers me.

Do people from these places look at my words and wonder how I can express my love to others? Is it similar to the way I see the Japanese "I like you alot" culture being incomplete? (The Japanese don't really utilize the word love. They say 好きです。 (すきです。) I like you and大好きです。 (だいすきです。) I love you. 好き (literally: like) and 大好き (literally: like a lot). )

I feel the same way about goodbye. Anytime, I say goodbye I cringe. Therefor, I try not to. It seems so final. It feels like the Japanese sayonara さよなら. A term that westerners misuse. (This is what you say as a final goodbye, as in when someone dies.) 

Even if we had used a word like Aloha, it would make more sense to me. I want a word that means, "I will see you again." or a word that means, "Next time my friend." That would be nice.

Monday, May 2, 2016

the history of the handkerchief, oh and peanuts.

My father likes to tell the story of a project he did as a young school boy. The project was called, "The History of the Peanut."

I wish I  could have of a copy of that, but to this day (and because of my father) I find the history of the peanut amusing.  Did you know that there is something called The Peanut Institute or that arachibutyrophobia is a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth? No? Well now you do!

In my endless jaunts through cyberspace, I learn so much useless (and sometimes semi-useful) information. Often, I look up the most bizarre things. Many times it's the history of a product or on the root of a word.

In the spirit of "The History of the Peanut", I most recently stumbled on "The History of the Handkerchief". (Which, mixes both my interest in where that word came from and the history of the object itself.)

To talk about a handkerchief, one must speak first of the kerchief. Which comes from the French couvre-chef or to "cover the head". This really means the handkerchief is a "hand sized covering for the head". (God forbidden someone wear a hat.)

Now for some history. In the interest in saving time, I share with you a well written and thorough history of the handkerchief from

"Some historians opine the handkerchief originated in China, and was first used to shield a person’s head from the hot sun. Statues dating as far back as the Chou dynasty (1000 BC) show figures holding decorative pieces of cloth. Christian tradition links the handkerchief or sudarium to the Shroud of Turn offered by Veronica to Christ. The Romans waved handkerchiefs in the air at public games, and the drop of a hankie would signal the beginning of the chariot races. During the middle ages, a knight would tie a lady’s handkerchief to the back of his helmet as a good luck talisman.

In the fifteenth century, European traders returned from China with great numbers of peasants’ headscarves, which Europeans appropriated as fashion accessories. Renaissance portraits show both men and women holding handkerchiefs embroidered and edged in lace.

Handkerchiefs appeared in Shakespearian plays – Cymbeline, As You Like It, and most memorably Othello, in which a misunderstanding over a handkerchief caused Othello to kill his wife and then himself.

Once considered so valuable they were listed in dowries, as well as bequeathed in wills. The loss of a handkerchief was found recorded in publications as far back as 1665.

In Persia, they were considered a sign of nobility and were reserved for kings. Aristocrats sitting for their portraits would request that a handkerchief be included in the picture, the more embellished the better, to indicate their status and position.

Considered a symbol of wealth, handkerchiefs became larger and larger, until, in 1785 Louis XVI issued a decree prohibiting anyone from carrying a handkerchief larger than his. Good grief!

The tradition of borrowing a bridal hankie may have stemmed from the times when they were too expensive for a young bride to afford.

Speaking of brides and courtship the handkerchief served as a surreptitious go-between to send explicit messages to the gimlet eyed observer.

Soon a whole language of flirting developed which survived well into Victorian times. It was said that Queen Elizabeth I, who carried handkerchiefs embroidered with gold and silver thread, created a whole vocabulary of hankie gestures for dealing with her staff.

Royalty notwithstanding, handkerchiefs for the average man were mostly white in color well into the 1920s. If a lady wished embellishment, she would personally embroider colorful flowers or other images on her hankies.

During the depression, a handkerchief was often the only new item a woman could afford enhance her wardrobe. A woman would “change” her outfit by changing her hankie.

Continuing on through WWII, the hankie played a role in fashion. In addition to eschewing silk stockings so our troops could have parachutes, women would forego the pleasure of a new hat or blouse, and instead opt for a “wardrobe” of handkerchiefs, most costing .05 – .50. Everywhere you looked, hankies could be seen peeking from breast pockets or draped over a belt as a fashion accessory. Manufacturers like Burmel and Kimball advertised a handkerchief of the month in Vogue magazine. With the perfection of color-fast dyes, a vast array of cheerful colors allowed artists the freedom to depict everything from flowers to animals to cocktail recipes. There were handkerchiefs to celebrate holidays, birthdays, get well greetings, Mother’s Day, and more, often sold in special gift cards. Several years after the war, once fashion began to revive, Balmain, Dior, Rochas and other designers utilized handkerchiefs as a final touch to their haute couture. Hankies were tied to the wrist, threaded through the top buttonhole of a suit or popped from the side pocket of a handbag.

I must add here a most interesting exception to the rule of no silk hankies during the war – the next time you see a photo of a dashing aviator with a scarf trailing around his neck – look closely. Many kerchiefs were imprinted with maps of the countryside where bombing missions were carried out. Should these young men have the misfortune to be shot down, they literally held an escape map in their hands. Hundreds of hankies were printed during both WWI & WWII for soldiers to carry and/or give as mementos.

Handkerchiefs were even employed for advertising in political campaigns. One historian claims Martha Washington created a handkerchief to help promote the election of her husband.

Apparently she had “George Washington for President” hankies printed for distribution at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. To this day, handkerchiefs are printed depicting both Republican and Democratic parties, as well as coronation handkerchiefs for royalty. There is even a handkerchief that contains King Edward’s abdication speech.

The birth of Kleenex sounded the death knell for handkerchiefs. Originally invented in the 1920’s as a face towel to remove cold cream, by the 1930’s Kleenex was touted as the antidote to germs with their slogan “Don’t carry a cold in your pocket.” Many opted for a disposable alternative. In the mid-1950s, a Little Golden Book featuring Little Lulu, had an astronomical first printing of 2.25 million copies!!! showcasing “Things to make and do with Kleenex tissues featuring Lulu and her magic tricks,” showing children how to make bunny rabbits and more from tissues." -

There is more handkerchief history. (Including the many meanings of colored handkerchiefs within the LGBT community.) But, I will focus on the last paragraph posted above.

Kleenex ruined the magical world of handkerchiefs? AND Little Lulu was roped into the campaign ?

How dare they sully the name of Lulu and the art of handkerchief (napkin) folding! As a Lulu who --not only enjoys folding things including handkerchiefs -- I also like to have reusable everything! It's not dirty and gross if you do it right.

If it can be washed and it can be reused, AS IT SHOULD BE!

Here are some relevant (and vaguely relevant) links to this post: