Mortality and morbidity.

Phat2 on Abd El Wahab El Inglizi, Ashrafieh.


A little early what with Halloween still weeks in the future, but I had an idea (Gothic tiling), and one should strike while the iron is hot. I kept on changing my mind and making mistakes, but I am happy with the result. Of course, making an invitation and actually inviting guests represent two very different levels of commitment.

A5, Winsor and Newton medium surface Drawing and Sketching paper 220 gsm, Noodler’s Apache Sunset, J. Herbin’s Ambre de Birmanie and Poussière de Lune (lettering), and Winsor and Newton’s Gold-Metallic Bronze, a Noodler’s Ahab, an unknown cheap fountain pen, a Rotring 1.5 mm, and a Winsor and Newton 000 brush (for the gold ink): ToonCamera, which outlines the script.

At the corner of Johnson and NW 23rd, across from SEE Eyewear. This utility pole (Pid 1000143804, Pole Inventory A1007724) suffers from many stapled bills.

In college, a South American friend told me not to wrestle with pigs because I would get dirty and the pigs would enjoy it. He claimed it was a Spanish language proverb, and I had no reason not to believe him and the truth of the proverb. Now older, more skeptical, and with very limited experience of swine, I would suspect pigs would be scared of me trying to wrestle them. Indeed, I would think it unlikely I would wrestle a pig unless it were a life-or-death struggle (give me bacon or give me death?), and we would be all so anxious that we would disregard dirt and enjoyment. There are many proverbs and stories referring to animal behavior with great insight. In this case, the wisdom of the saying seems less about insight into animal behavior and more about people disregarding common sense. Perhaps it should refer to bureaucrats instead. Another case of metaphorical truth through fiction.

As part of my public service series on leadship skills, I thought to make a card with the proverb to post here and outside my office. I wanted a relatively formal script and thought it only appropriate to allow myself to alter the English without losing what I believed to be sense of the Spanish. Thus, an uncial script pairing with an archaic style of English, something suggesting the wisdom of the ancients, et cetera. I am happy with it, the layout, quality, size (A5), and overall balance of pomposity and humor.

Just before posting, I thought to google the proverb, and I came across its entry on Very interesting. It seems to have been attributed to many great wits, and it has recorded variants from 1872 and more ancient relatives. “Don’t wrestle with a chimney sweep, or you will get covered in grime.” A date of 1776 is claimed, though the phrasing sounds modern to me. At least it does not falsely imput grappling attributes to peace-loving pigs.

An advice card for someone else’s office. Unfortunately, it is not quite the quality appropriate for framing. On the back,”advice concerning fools, foolishness, and distractions in general.” The point being that one of the greatest impediments to progress are obstacles of the banal sort that simply distract one from doing one’s work. The “ignore” was the best (and most frequent) advice I had when working with saboteurs, self-promoters, axe-grinders, conspirators, and noisemakers in general. It is also a useful set of tactics for passive aggressiveness (that could be an oxymoron) when one has a decision-making role, meaning the power to not appprove. See Leadership Skills #1 of 27 May 2016.

A6, Pilot parallel pens 3.8 mm, Winsor & Newton smooth watercolor paper, 130 gsm, Noodlers’ inks. I considered Roman, but I do not have the skill, though Roman seems most appropriate for advice (and imperatives in general). An attempt with the 6 mm pen was much more difficult for me (always practice large, because small is easy and masks faults that impede improvement) and was simply too large. Things that are for others’ walls are more likely to be appreciated (and displayed) if not too demanding of space. I always consider Gothic, but that and Italic just did not seem right.

The view from the fancy fish restaurant at the Sporting Club, Manara, Ras Beirut. Barracuda, maliffa, is my favorite, head and all, if not too big. Red mullet, Sultan Ibrahim, is also very nice. I do not always eat them whole, head, fins, and bones, but if smaller, often do.

A benefit to being social with Germans is that Gothic suits German (and dare I say Germans?) well. The letter Z and a good number of S, strings of consonants without intervening vowels, and of course, the umlaut.

Both cards were made in a hurry, and though I am not very happy with the regularity of strokes and spacing, the recipients probably are likely to appreciate the effort regardless. The 50th was last weekend, and the unnumerated younger, in spring. I played more with the squat Gothic for the 50th, and I will keep the current letter forms, especially the K, with some adjustments to remove the curve on the top of the descender of the B, H, K, and L. I have not decided about the horizontal closure to the loop of the E, and I will close the spaces between letters until touching where possible. These were both on A5 watercolor paper with Pilot Parallel pens (3.8 and 6 mm), Noodler’s inks and Winsor & Newton’s gold-metallic bronze ink applied with a brush.

This insect frightened me greatly until I realized it was not 5 meters long and coming to court our car. It befriended the car at about 600 meter elevation. My friendly invertebratist states, “bug is a Lygaeidae (possibly, Spilosthethus sp; but hard to know from ventral surface only). It feeds on seeds of flowers. It has a sucking stylet.” Apparently, it is a “true bug:” I never knew that “bug” was a technical term.

I consulted local specialists. The dipterist said that the fly looks like a Muscina sp. (Muscidae), and checking the setae would allow exact identification. The plant specialist identified the fig tree, source of the drupe, as Ficus microcarpa. This week, the weather is less oppressive, the rain of little figs and plague of pestering flies are peaking, and I am waiting impatiently for the cool rains.


This sign in PDX is misleading at best. I can imagine it being the basis of a lawsuit when all the poorly informed eclipse viewers go to Portland and miss totality by 1%. My trust in “Made in Oregon” is diminished from low interest to avoidance.