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.

This blog was originally to be devoted to oxymorons, recipes, and ToonCamera images. No recipe here, but the title is a good attempt at oxymoronic.

The supply of beer in Beirut is somewhat frustrating for an Oregonian. The locals prefer lager in the style of Heineken, and the vast variety of global beer styles is poorly represented. For a while after the July war (and briefly in Spinney’s this spring), Guinness was found in some shops, presumably for the Irish UN. A local microbrewery was making an “American” IPA that was a nod in that direction, but it has not been seen in months. Score in Sidani and Sam’s off Hamra had a good selection, but now my choices are limited to Paulaner’s Hefeweizen and Doppelbock, the first of which is fine but not every day and the second puts me to sleep. The pantheon shown above is available still at a very few places: bars (I want to enjoy one at home for dinner), a nearby store (whose customer service is so bad that I did not go there for five years and had a worse experience and will not return), and the Malt Gallery on Independence street (connecting Place Sassine and Sodeco, about where the road changes from flat on top to steep). Thank goodness for the Malt Gallery. My favorite is the Montana Red, a quite reasonable representation of an American Indian Pale Ale (that sounds misleadingly related to the indigenous peoples of North America).  Of course, the real IPA , the Bengal Lancer IPA is very nice, and the Extra Special Bitter is my favorite when I do not want an IPA. All the Fuller’s I have tried are at leat very good, though the thought of Thames water is a bit disturbing. There is a Black Cab stout…

I saw this clump of very interesting flowers against a rock in the Tannourine Cedar Reserve. My local plant expert immediately identified it as Acantholimon libanoticum, colloquially known as Lebanese prickly thrift. An intriguing name for which I have no explanation. It grew in stony soil that looked like viper habitat, and indeed, the plant expert said blunt-nosed vipers tend to loiter where it grows. I did not prod it to flush any hidden adders. Apparently, it tends to be whiter in Lebanon and pinker in Syria.