Monthly Archives: March 2013

Wednesday Write In #32

Prompts:  cardboard cut-out ; exhale; brittle ; gleam ; acrid

The corridor was quiet. Mags could hear noises off while she waited; the other children in the playground, a teacher’s laugh from the lounge. They sat around a large table at Eleven, little break, while outside the children played. She wasn’t outside today. Today she was sent to the Principal’s office.

At the end of the corridor was a statute of the Virgin Mary. She had at her feet a bouquet of flowers and she held her hands out as if to say “Arragh, now, what the shite is this?!” Mary, born without sin. Had to be without sin, so she’d have a womb good enough for that son of hers, the one that never left home till he was 30. Blessed is she amongst women. Nice qualifier there, big of the Church to grant her that much. Creeps.

Course, Mary was held up as the ideal to the girls. What the nuns really wanted was perfection, a cardboard cut out, no one real at all. Someone with smooth hair who was popular at the tennis club. That *had* been Emer O’Neil, who’s Dad was rich and who was blonde, thin, perfect. Knobbly knees that tanned in the Summer. But then she’d gotten pregnant at 17 and the rest of the girls had exhaled in horrified fascination at it. Surely she could have had it abroad, come back to her life? But no. This was to be faced. Emer’s boyfriend got a job in the firm and life went back to boring Sunday lunches. A whisper of gossip to follow her and that was that.

Sr. Calistia was really keeping her waiting. Maybe she had forgotten she was out here. She’d have to explain, again, about the note from Mum, and how she was leaving early today for a job interview in the local paper. It wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t have to listen to the brittle laughs of disbelief from old Big Nose. A job! Was that the new thing now? And was her mother the type of woman to let her daughter ignore her exams? Throw away her future? How her eyes would gleam as she got into it, throwing out comments about her family, her brothers, her sister. She didn’t mind about her sister who, yes, was a bit of a snob but her brothers were all right. And her Mum was a lady, a gentle lady. She was never angry or bitter, unlike Sr Calista who seemed more acrid the older Mags got. She supposed it was because she was fading away. They all were, it seemed. Just drifting into mists and soon they would struggle to remember all this… restriction. Daft old thing.

The door behind her finally opened. “All right, Madam, in you come,” said the Principal. She hopped up and walked in, closing the door behind her. In a moment, the corridor returned to silence again, with only the drifting motes to show there had been motion.

Wednesday Write In #31

Prompts;  sniffle : font : northern : powdered : pick a card

She hid a sniffle as she hid in the corner. It was dark here and there was no one to see her. Her mother and sisters had gone on, saying she couldn’t go, she was too young. They weren’t here to see her cry. Her mother couldn’t sigh at her, her sisters couldn’t try to make her laugh. She could cry if she wanted, if only to show others how wrong they were. And they were so wrong.

Oh, but she was hungry. She wiped the tears off her face and made herself sit up straight. She had gone without food for so long in an effort to fit into the dress. She had silently hunted her sister’s clothes while she slept at night in the dark, and last night she had found the perfect one to wear to the palace. Midnight blue, all shimmering wonder and whispered promise. It was hidden in her wardrobe, ready for her to put on now that the others had gone on. She would wear it, and be marvellous, and the prince would fall in love with her. Not with anyone else, or with them, but with her. 

The font on the invitation, sitting on the mantelpiece, was perfect, so fancy and dainty. His Royal Highness requests the pleasure. Pleasure. She wriggled her toes in anticipation. All she had wanted was to feel pleasure as was her right. Instead, she was made to work, to clean up after herself, to earn money for things. Father had always had people to do these things, but now her Stepmother and sisters wanted her to learn. To cook, to sew, to mind her money. Money! As if she would ever have to think about such things! She was going to marry a wealthy man, and stay at home, and never have to think of such things. Work was for others, and all this was just nonsense.

She’d prepared for tonight. She’d hidden the invitation her stepmother had said she was too young to use. She had the dress ready to go. All she had to do was to powder her face and to dress her hair. These couldn’t be too difficult, the maid did it when she was here, and the maid was stupid. Poor people were.  She would arrive at the palace and the prince would be swept away and everything would be wonderful. Just wonderful. She stared into the middle distance at this magical promise, at this delight. She would show her stepmother and sisters, she would be the belle of the ball. She’d show them. She’d show them all.

Finding Out What a Pseudo-Riemannian Matric is.

This delightful, oh-so-lyrical topic was suggested on Facebook by my husband, Mark Dennehy. Why? I’ll ask him and get back to you at the end of this post. However, let us make a start, shall we?

The first starting point in researching this is Wikipedia. Your intrepid blogger goes and enters this in the search box and gets the following definition;

pseudo-Riemannian “metric” is a nondegenerate quadratic form on a real vector space Rn.

Okay… that didn’t really help very much. What about a Riemannian metric? Wikipedia gives me the following;

ARiemannian metric is a positive-definite quadratic form on a real vector space.

Huh. I’m still in the dark here. So what is in fact a quadratic form?

A Quadratic form is a homogeneous polynomial of degree two in a number of variables. For example,

4x^2 + 2xy - 3y^2\,\!

is a quadratic form in the variables x and y.

Well, now at least we’re on more familiar ground. I recognise the style of equation given. Is it possible that we’re looking at a nomenclature for a form of mathematics that I’m already familiar with?

Lets have a look at the definition for a homogeneous polynomial. What does that tell us?

A homogeneous polynomial is a polynomial whose nonzero terms all have the same degree

Ok, that didn’t really help. However, do you notice the definitions are getting shorter? It is almost as if we’re getting closer to a form of definition we might just understand. This is very much a cause of hope, a cause of optimism. We’re on the case and we’re getting closer. Maybe too close…. Okay, stop being silly. Lets see what the definition of a polynomial brings us. Is that one smaller again?

polynomial is an expression of finite length constructed from variables (also called indeterminates) and constants, using only the operations of additionsubtractionmultiplication, and non-negative integer exponents.

Ah for feck’s sake!

Yeah but hang on, though. This seems almost understandable and familiar. 2 + 2 would be a polynomial, according to this definition. Right, so now we’re getting somewhere. Let’s go back, and have a look at the definition above this.

A homogeneous polynomial is a polynomial whose nonzero terms all have the same degree

The same degree… without being cubed or squared? So our example of 2 + 2 would seem to still be valid. So what was the one above that?

A Quadratic form is a homogeneous polynomial of degree two in a number of variables. For example,

4x^2 + 2xy - 3y^2\,\!

is a quadratic form in the variables x and y.

So a Quadratic form seems to relate to the equation where the variables are squared. Okay, I’m balancing my understanding on a shaky tray, but it’s still hanging in there.  So what’s the next one?

ARiemannian metric is a positive-definite quadratic form on a real vector space.

Crashing into a brick wall. I’m guessing that this is stating the equation they are speaking of is not a minus (i.e., -2y would not be included) and by the same logic would not be grafted on the -x\y section of the graft. Very much guess work here, though. However, there’s only one more definition to go. This is the Boss Level, the big cheese, the whole enchilada.

pseudo-Riemannian “metric” is a nondegenerate quadratic form on a real vector space Rn.

Nope, I’m back to giving you blank stares. But with a burst of inspiration, I put ‘Pesudo-Riemannian’ into Google Images, and this is what you get;


Which suggests that these equations are of use in describing huge, unknown tracts of space, that they help us to understand the unknown, that they can do a universe more than my stupid efforts can perceive. They see what we can’t.

Sometimes I hate being so obtuse.

Still no clear response from hubby regarding why he suggested this topic. If he gives me a reason I’ll update this entry.

Wednesday Write In #30

Wednesday Write In #30

Prompts: overdose : mither : gloss over : poach : digest

The sniveling overdose of sentimentality during the funeral service made me smile, but I managed to get through it without rolling my eyes. There was lots of delightfully vague nonsense about how Mike had been such a good guy, we’ll really miss him. Course, being a good guy is what they say at your funeral when you’re a loser. No one said how great he was at his job or how much respect he managed to develop. No one spoke about how he would reduce morale in the office or fail to support Head Office’s demands. No, instead we got some mithering nonsense about being a good father, a loving husband. Community service. Coping with his cancer with bravery. A twat, basically.

Outside the Church, in the snow, I glossed over the service when giving my condolences to his wife. It’s one of the things I’ve learnt as I’ve gotten older. Sometimes people aren’t mature enough to  be rational at that moment, exactly? Instead I made some benign comments about the service, which she seemed to not react to. She was blond, tired. Black drained her, as a colour. She’d be better in brighter colours in a few months.  I didn’t mention to her my plans to send an email to HR about Mike’s pension. His figures were too low over the last five years to warrant any increase. At least, they weren’t when I looked at them over after his stupid outburst after the Christmas Party. “Cold hearted bastard”, indeed. If I was so cold hearted, how come he was the one yelling names? He should have thought of his family more, got sense, kept quiet. It is a demand of working life we all have to make, Mike.

Ah. There was Brian, from Head Office. I wanted to say hello to him, to have him see I saw him and vice versa. There was a rumour going around I was about to be poached from this dismal back water, promoted to Head Office. Next summer should see me gone. I walked up to him, and found to my surprise he was ill mannered. I never would have expected it from Management, but there he was, staring at my held out hand. “Brian, hello,” I said, hoping he would remember the right thing to do. Instead, Brian seemed to think he was …justified? in taking a step back. I kept my composure. “I hope everything is all right?” I asked, my voice low.  He looked at me with the most pompous assurance. “You might want to consider the decision,” he said, “of attending the funeral of the man many consider you drove to an premature death.”

I stared at him, realising.

“Please, if nothing else, consider it something to digest.”

The realisation washed over me, as he walked away, as they all walked away from me. People just despise success. They’ll revolt against it, and against people who achieve. Its happened so many times before, and here it was happening again. I watched him walk away, thinking to myself how sad it was. Some people will never know the depth of their own self delusion, the lies that they tell themselves. Shaking my head, I pulled my coat around me tightly, and headed back to the office.

Wednesday Write In #29

This week’s prompt words are:

‘I do’  ::  crockery  ::  surreal  ::  torch  ::  capsule


“Do you understand these terms as I’ve explained them to you?”

“I do.”

Behind him she put the crockery away, while the fire crackled in the small fireplace. He searched my face for confirmation and seemed to find me satisfactory. I swallowed when he looked away. I could do this. I could do this.

The evening had been one leap of faith after another. Meet the contact in the coffee bar. Follow him to this house, to this room, where he made me repeat the message over and over under it was word perfect. His wife filled me with over strong tea, compensating for the lack of food.

I thought again about the message. It was a random stream of English words that I didn’t understand but could repeat phonetically if I heard the catchphrase. I had one hour to meet with the other side. After an hour and a half the guards would come around that part of the underground canal again. If I was caught, I wouldn’t even be able to answer questions, just look like a bumbling tourist.

It turned nine o’clock. I left the house and walked quietly to the marketplace. When there was no one around I went down the stone steps into the darkness. There, just where they said it would be, was the torch I could carry along the way (if I had been stopped with it on me I would have been picked up). I followed the path exactly as described, my heart beating. I’m not afraid, I told myself. I’m not. I’m not.

At the spot he was waiting. He was scared, sweating. He hissed at me: “You’re late!” But this wasn’t the code word. I didn’t say anything to him, just stood looking at him. My hands were in my pockets, and I held the capsule in my fist. A moment, and it would be over. A moment, and I’d be over. What was he going to say? What would happen? I said nothing, just waited.

He gave the password. Time started again. I felt my shoulders relax, felt myself breathe, and gave the response.

In a moment, the message was given. We went our separate ways. By eleven I was at home, safe. Getting ready for my classes the next day. The capsules were on my bedside table, next to my reading glasses. I looked at them and thought, “My life is surreal.”

The metaphysical meaning of warm, chocolate chip cookies when you’re blue.

As suggested by Mary Alagna via Facebook. Thanks Mary!

Freud once said that almost nothing mattered, so long as the world realised that Claire was right, all the time, without exception. Feud Fraud Freud was right. He also pointed out that most errors and slip ups are in fact intentional dialogues from the subconscious or unconscious, a reflection of the repressed. Don’t know why I mentioned that. Let’s forget about that and move on.

Food is our sustenance.  It doesn’t matter what type of psychology you currently grant yourself, you cannot survive without food. Give it three days and you’ll have no persona to credit yourself with, you’ll just seek food.


Hence, food is necessary, materially, independent of your level of civility, or even civilisation. The variation in the answering of that need can swing in a huge arc, whether you’re a big fan of the raw meat or whether you’re getting served a State dinner.

Pumpkin pie tart, pear tatin with whipped cream and caramel sauce, served at the first Obama State Dinner.

So when we choose food, we are choosing the life we lead. We decide our mental, physical and social status, in ways many of us don’t even realise. For example, the regular diet that you consume influences the telomeres, the little things at the end of your DNA code that decide if a gene is active or not (think of them as like the little plastic tags on a pair of shoelaces). And these active or inactive genes are what gets passed on your kids (that goes for guys too, before you think you’re exempt). Your food has an impact on the very genetic code that is active in your body, and so your food has an effect that lasts.

“Ooh, I *so* care right now.”

Still with me? So lets look at that plate of cookies that you pull towards you of an evening. Food can lift and assuage all manner of distress. It provides a comfort that was built into our bones over thousands of years, a comfort that tells us food is home, it is safety, it is a sign that everything is all right. Food matters, matters like your language, your architecture, your education. Giving yourself the food that you want every so often (once a month or so) provides a sense of largess to life that is unique. It is philosophical, romantic, an elevation from the humdrum of life. If we are the universe coming conscious, then how we treat ourselves is that consciousness reflecting upon itself.

“I hope they still make that shampoo I like….”

To break it down simply, you, a small person dwarfed by the sheer scale of the cosmos, have no right of refusal in such matters.  You, the result of four billion years of evolution, of genetic patterns going back generations and leading on into the distant future, are led by ideas you know nothing of. The final say is this;

You owe it to the Universe to have these cookies.

Happy Cookies.