November 16, 2007

The Wanderer steps forth

The other night I was reading "The History of Tom Thumb" to my children out of Joseph Jacobs's English Fairy Tales (1890), which begins:

"In the days of the great Prince Arthur, there lived a mighty magician,called Merlin, the most learned and skilful enchanter the world has ever seen.

This famous magician, who could take any form he pleased, was travelling about as a poor beggar, and being very tired, he stopped at the cottage of a ploughman to rest himself, and asked for some food."

The moment I read those words, I was thunderstruck. The realization hit me: Merlin is Odin.

I almost wanted to stop reading just to let this, and its implications sink in, but I didn't, because there are few sins greater than to interrupt a child's fairy tale.

Now, I know I could probably find this notion in any number of dusty tomes by scholars of literature, mythology or folklore. But I don't recall ever having read this. No, I don't even feel like looking it up. In that one moment, the energy of the archetype reached through several levels of being and zapped me right where I sat among my pajama-clad children.

And from that moment forward, I will always be certain: Merlin is Odin.

November 15, 2007

I wasn't expecting THAT!

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then parodying the hell out of someone must be the greatest form of... love? I hope so.

Once I got over the "Oh my God!" reaction, I couldn't stop chuckling about this posting on a friend's blog.

I consider myself well roasted, or should I say toasted?

November 9, 2007

Goin' to the dogs - 2nd interlude

When anyone mentions the negative effects the "Tibetans" might have, back pain is usually at the top of the list. As I mentioned in a previous posting, this is most likely due to two factors. The first is that the exercises quickly strengthen the abdominal muscles without balancing this out by strengthening the back (especially the lower-back) muscles. The second factor is that our contemporary lifestyle, with all those hours seated in front of a computer, gives us weak back muscles to begin with.

To counteract this tendency of the "Tibetans", I have incorporated the following exercise into my morning routine. I learned it from my chiropractor (who occasionally needs to give my head a swift jerk to pop my neck back into place; old aikido injury, don'tcha know).

My chiropractor demonstrated it on a table with his legs hanging over the edge from the hips down, but in a house with four children, I never seem to find an uncluttered table with enough leg clearance on one end, so I started doing the exercise with a simple chair. It works.

So... you start by lying across the chair on your stomach, and grasping the bottoms of two chair legs, like so:

Keeping your trunk and head as parallel to the ground as possible, raise your legs as slowly as you can while you inhale, until your legs are parallel to the ground, like so:
Then slowly let your legs back down to the floor as you exhale (still holding them out straight), until your toes touch the floor.

I recommend doing as many repetitions of this exercise as you do of the five "rites", so that your lower back gets as strong as your abdomen and chest.

Even if you don't do the "Tibetans", it might be a good idea to start doing this exercise if you spend lots of time staring at computer screens. Like you're doing at this very moment.

November 4, 2007

Puttin' on the feed bag

(RSS feed, that is)

There are times I can be downright geeky. For several years, I was the one people came to at the Hungarian Press Agency's Econews when they had a problem with Microsoft Windows. But there are times I can be nearly Luddite in my resistance to adopting new technologies, especially if I suspect there's some evil, hidden capitalist agenda behind it. Only fools try something just because it's new.

And that's the way it was between me and RSS technology. For years now I've seen links on pages offering "feeds" of various content. "Sure," I thought, "like I need more stuff cluttering up my life. It probably involves getting lots of spam and getting placed on lists of idiots who do things like send in Reader's Digest contest entries."

I also knew it had something to do with what, in the golden era of Netscape (long ago, in a galaxy far, far away...) was referred to as "push technology." Wow, was that ever a flop. Another idea the world and the Scribbler just weren't ready for. "No thank you," I proudly said, "I can go looking for the stuff I want. I don't need to have it delivered to me."

And then I became a blogger.

When you configure your blog, among the settings are the settings for your feeds. I got to wondering what this was all about. Then I noticed the links on my blog for feeds. Hmmm. How does this work? I kept wondering what a reader would see and experience if they subscribed to a feed of my blog. For that matter, if it would even work.

And besides that, part of the blogging game (and I'm sure I'm not telling most of you anything new) involves reading other blogs. It makes sense. Novelists read novels. Journalists read newpapers and magazines, and bloggers read other blogs. It's just part of learning how to do it. And, of course, one needs to understand that blogging is a social activity, not just a solitary craft.

The long and the short of it: bloggers read (or should read) blogs.

So I went to a friend's blog and subscribed. Due to the fact that I've been a Google person ever since I got my first invitation to G-mail three years ago (I'm a Google whore: I use G-mail, Blogger, Page Creator, Analytics, Google Documents, Google Talk...), setting up the feed with Google Reader was absurdly easy. Hmmm. The research I'd read about RSS said it can save time for people who regularly check certain websites to see if there's new information. Hmmm.

So I subscribed to all the blogs I read. And you know what? I, er, have to admit. It's saving me time. I just open my feed reader, and it shows me which blogs have new postings, and I can read them right there. If I want to comment, one keystroke takes me to their blog. Amazing. No more clicking around on links and waiting for blogs to load, only to find out there's nothing new.

Now I still think you'd have to be crazy to subscribe to a feed of something like CNN. Your reader would be full-to-groaning with new stuff all the time. But for the conscientious blogger, I have to admit this is a good tool.

Not to say that it isn't a good thing to be a bit Luddite sometimes.