Friday, December 16, 2016

Private Echidne Stuff: On Baking, Computers And Snow

1.  I made two pear frangipane tarts as a private challenge against the doom-and-gloom of the times, because:

--  there is nothing less necessary than a pear frangipane tart and that is exactly what we need if we are going to soldier on,

--  I have never made them before (love new things!), and the not knowing and uncertainty are good teachers in this time (they turned out well)

 --  they test sinfully luxuriant and perfect, tiny mouth orgasms, and that is what is denied from us, the Internal Enemies of the Reich (those who don't support Trump)

Each is intended to feed fifteen people.  I have almost finished one in less than two days, and with each mouthful I think of all those who would not want me to be happy, whose own joy is based on my humiliation and despair.  And then I want to share my tarts with them, to make them sunny and kind, too.

2.  A perfect storm of the usual kind of computer crap hit me.  I spent almost seven hours yesterday trying to fix the problems on my own, then another two hours with a "technician" who tried the solutions I had already found and managed to fix nothing but add two more problems before abruptly breaking off the connection.

Finally, at one in the morning, I got hold of a technician who was a goddess.  She was competent, smart and simply fixed all my problems slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am (and yes, I know that is about something else, but brevity can be what lifts one's heart up when it comes to computers).  Sadly, I bet she is paid chicken feed.

I was struck again by the way all the big computing sites hide from us, their customers.  Just try to find an actual address to write to about your bill, just try to find an actual answer to your problem without sacrificing the next ten years to the search.

Many sites instruct you to go to their discussion forum, an imaginary almost-empty room, with banana peels and empty beer bottles and dirt on the floor, chairs overturned, a few geeks deep in their computers, and nobody from the firm present.  The questions at those forums (fori?) are about whether dogs really have four legs, whether computers need to be turned on and so on.

The free sites, such as Blogger, are obviously the worst, because we users are not the customers of the site.  Nope, we are the content!  And the content cannot have a voice.  But even the paying sites try their utmost to not speak to any of their customers.  It's hilarious, given that old saw about customers always being right.

The concept of ownership has changed with Internet.  You can buy a service or a product and think that you own what you paid for, but in fact you do not, and "improvements" can be entered every few days to your email system or to your blogging system or to anything else, and you have no say in those changes, but must simply learn a totally different dashboard all over again.

3.  Snow.  It's coming down (tuisku, a snow storm with snow coming down sideways).  Finnish has many more words for different types of snow than English, either snow coming down, snow on the ground or snow on ice or water or mud.  That's because many more words are needed about life experiences which are frequent and which matter.  In the olden days one would wax the skis differently for "nuoska" and for "hangenkanto*," and although "loska" and "sohjo" are both words for "slush," sohjo has only snow and water in it while loska may also have mud.  Your feet are more likely to get wet with sohjo than loska, so knowing which it is outside determines which boots you will don.

This is not proof for any version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, but surely more specific terms affect how we see events?

The site I link to mentions that despite this embarrassment of riches when it comes to naming snow, Finnish has no word that matches "to snow."  The equivalent is "it rains snow."


* The link doesn't get "hanki" the way I learned it.  Yes, the word can be a general word for snow, but it tends to be used for the kind of snow which has a hard top crust, possibly hard enough so that you can walk on it as if it was a ballroom floor.  Which is nice after months of wading through soft snow, though it's also associated with very cold weather.