Reflections by Mrs. Malaprop Gathered
Over the Years:
WARNING: This essay is a bit of pure silliness written in the spirit of foolish optimism that this year should be better for all of us than this last year was; so if you’re not in a mood for something silly, you might want to try reading the Oxford English Dictionary instead which should keep you occupied for at least a year.
Note: For those of you not familiar with Richard Sheridan’s play The Rivals written in 1775 at the age of 23, he introduced the pompous and linguistically pretentious Mrs. Malaprop who became the epitome of one who misused words in egregious ways and generally abused language. Shakespeare had already used such devices and many writers and comics have subsequently employed them, but Mrs. Malaprop remains, as it were, the grand champagne.
As you may have noticed in some of my previous tour de farces, I am something of an epicurate–fine food is essential to a fine temper. It’s no wonder those emacipated fashion models are so unpleasant and difficult; they are always hungry. Men actually prefer women of jolly substance who are not all skim and bones. A proper diet promotes excellent balance of whoremones and leads to a healthy, cuddly plumposity. Much better to be peach than a quince! So, indeed, I prize superb gouranami dishes.
I quite like promperly prepared French dishes with Bored-eau wine sauces and, of course, the French believe that the saucier the better. One of my better recipes is Champignon a la Boeuf sur la Toit followed by Wanton soup (and yes, I know it’s oriented) with a delicate white sauce over a poached poisson, usually psammon.
As I wandered around the world, I discovered a large number of scrofulous dishes and a wonderful variety of wanderful people. There are indeed many splendid and kind humans, but unfortunately, many too many corrupt and greedly people who end up exploiting the good ones (and, astonishingly, often at their own sanction). There were also some right wonderful rogues–true squash bucklers. And as it happens, I have superb recipe for a swash dish. You must pay attention to the ingredients. You start with very fine specimens of Zoocini squash. Fry up some strips of salt pork and wrap them around the squash which you have sliced in half lengthwise. Chop some walnuts, pistachios, and almonds, mix with sunflour seeds and springle across the top of the Zoocini and press firmly into the the surface using the back of a small spoon. Next, springle with some Greek fetid cheese, finalize with a large spoonful of Chateau-Nerd-de-Pope and bake. I have been informed that this was originally an old pirate dish. They would get the ingredients from ships they boarded or ports they raided. This apparently was one of their favorite dishes and, as a consequence, they became widely known as squashbucklers. I was quite sure that this was true, since a very reliable resource had reported it to me, but perhaps it was just a pigment of my imagination.
After the departure of my beloved husband, coaxed away by that miserable smut, Fifi or Wewe or whatever her nomenclature was, I was thrown into a passionate obsession of collecting a wide variety of items in incredible quantities. Estate sales provided an opportunity to plunge into an orgy of acquiring everything from rare biological specimens, such as, the foetus of a duckbill platypus to glass sculptures of kittens climbing tiny glass ladders. A few of my ex-friends had the termerity to question my taste. One of them even described my extraordiniary collection as a “fine fettle of kitsch.” He has, of course, been sent to Coventry! My knight errant of a husband soon came crawling back after discovering that I long ago had the manor house transferred exclusively into my possession along with 99.9% of all our assets. In short, I am incredibly wealthy and my poor, ex-husband is precisely that–incredibly poor. I provide him with just enough of an allowance to allow him to keep him modestly and away from me. After a fling in Venice, he entreated me to take him back. Naturally, I refused telling that he had probably contracted Gondolrrhea and that as long as I didn’t see him I would continue to send his monthly check to Barclays’, otherwise he would get zilch.
With my new freedom to indulge in collecting, I collected minerals, butterflies, beetles, fossils, shells, corals, sponges, sea urchins, starfish, chitons, orchids, preserved fish, octopuses, small sharks, skates and rays, sea cucumbers, tunacakes, sea eneminies, polycute worms, and basket stars, just to mention a few. And of course, the necssary reference vsolumes to build up a suitable library of litterature on these subjugations. However, I also began collecting fine foods and wines–a wide variety of combustibles–along with a wide variety of recipes from a large range of erotic countries. From the French and the Italians, I learned to love the enormous number of cheesy varieties available. There is that lovely cheese with a nice bite to it named after the monster created by Emile Zola: Gorgonzola. And then, there is the very ancient Genesis cheese: Edam and Eve along with the slightly pungent English Stilted cheese. We English often have kippers for breakfast, but frankly I much prefer canal food–lochs and bagels.
Breakfast rituals vary enormously from culture to culture. In America, breakfast seems to have boiled down to coffee admitably in many different dreadful decoctions. We British have always believed that a hardy, hearty brekkfast is essential to our function for fufilling our role of guiding the direction of the world as the most extended Empire ever on the face of the Earth. And I must say we have been damnably good at it. Recently, however, those silly Yanks have posurated themselves into believing that they are fit for and capable of world domination by means of the absurdist doctrine of controlling through the impostion of freedom and “democracy:
”Here we are to liberate you and now you MUST be free under our tootilage so that every numbskull, fanatic, idiot, and mental case can be herd in your new open society. This is the imperative and imperial doctrine of free speech which has now been cybersanctioned through such institutions as In-Your-Facebook and Twaddle.”
Unfortunately we have seen what happens with speech that I would describe not merely as “free”, but “unbridled”. Apparently the Yankee Dandy Doobies are no longer interested in civility and therefore civilization. It seems that the Americans have largessly reduced morality to matters of sexuality and, unfortunately, judging by all the recent scandals, they seem terribly bad at even that. They seem so preoccupied with people’s private parts activities. I always harken back to that comment of the thespian, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, which she made in 1910 when a young actress in the production in which they were both appearing approached her and stated that an older actor was showing too much affection for the leading man. To which Mrs. Campbell famously replied: “Does it really matter what these affectionate people do–so long as they don’t do it in the road and frighten the horses!”
Admitted, we Brits have a long and bloody history, but we have more castles than the Yanks. I just wish that all humans could be a bit more humane and less bestial, but that’s likely a vein hope.
I’m sorry about that rather disdressing digression, so back to the happier topic of breakfast. The Europeans have what they call a “Continental” brakefast which usually consists of some rubbery cheese slices , a very stinky soft cheese, some kind of greasy slices of sausage, a couple of dried apricots, and a selection of freshly-baked stale buns. And in the rest of the world, I have come across so few passionate discussions of brekfast that I suspect it is largely ignored for latter day fare. I know of no accounts of Massidonian, Nigerian, Burmese, or Bowlivian breakfast, but perhaps I have just not been fortunate to have come across them.
After finally exliling my nuisance husband, I got rather tired as a woman of some age, distinction and wealth of rambling around alone in my 62 room estate and so, I decided on making a couple of radical changes: 1) I decided to radically downsize to a mere 22 room cottage. It was heartbreaking to have to part with so many aspics of my collections as I will relegate to you a bit later on. 2) I decided to take on a handsome, young, blond, playboy, fortune seeker–I may be eccentric, but I’m not stupid–so, I laid out the ground rules and relegations. I wished to be worshiped and he wanted money and luxury. It sounds quite a vulgate arrangement but, in fact, it was highly satisfactory for both of us. I knew enough not to be overly generous and he knew enough not to be overly greedy. His name, which he lived up to, was Lance. I must say that he was enormous and enormously helpful in the painful process of desiderating what things I would have to sacrifice.
I knew that Lance was selling some items on the side, but as long as little pecadildos didn’t become excessive, I turned a bland eye, because my collections were so vast. Just in terms of bookish stuff, we deposed of over 50,000 volumes and I still have 3 or 4 times that much retaining. However, virtually every volume which I did sell caused me twingles to have to part with an old friend. After all, with all those years of collecting, I was known to the dealers as something of a book louse. For example, I had a lovely illustrated early edition of Gullible’s Travels, but I had read it 3 times and knew I wouldn’t read it again. Or that gigantic puzzlement of James Joyce, Finnegan’s Awake, which I never made much sense of, but which did teach me a whole new vocalabulary. I also use to love Destroyesvski and, in particular, his great work The Imbecile. Toilstoi was, however, quite a different old cucumber and I was never able to get devolved in War and Pieces. And I used to cherryish those wonder-filled hours when my father and I would sit in his library and he would read to me from The Travels of Marco Polio. I love to be read to and I would ask Lance, but his limit is at the level of Winnie the Poop.
One of my uncles was a connosir of art and bought extensively, such that my modest 22 room cottage could not begin to accomdate all of his canvassing. There were some quite expensive Pickaxico paintings which I didn’t much like, but I must say that their sale prices helped unfray the outrageous cost of moving, along with a couple of dribble paintings by Jackson Haddock. Also, I was delighted to see the souop cans and soap boxes of Mr. Andrew Whorhole go off to auction. However, other items were not at all easy to part with, for example, 3 delightfully whimsical Paul Clay paintings and some very pleasureable, large Wassily Kandyinsky paintings of abstract playfulness. And there were, of course, a few items I simply could not bare to part with, especially the Vermeer, in large part because of the associations with Leeuwenhoek. But enough, this brings me to the ledge of tears.
There was a period when I was intensifyingly into amassing fine specimens of crystals and minerals. I had a large specimen (22 kg.) Of Wyoming Youngite which is rather rare, fluorescent, and quite collectable. Unfortunately, it had to go. I also looked for Oldite, but was never able to locate any specimens. Between me and my predeceasors, the collection had gotten so large and unwielding, that I began selling it off by the pound. (In some case, one pound of mineral for a thousand paper pounds!) Well, I wasn’t going to just give the stuff away.
Oh, yes, and oh, so painfully, the microscopes. My ex-husband, Jeremy or Jerome, or whatever his name was, had a modest collection of, what I must admit are very fine instruments, to which I added greatly. I confess that I have a terrible weakness for large, finely-crafted optical systems. I blush to admit that by the time I had to make the move to the new quarters, I only had 344 microscopes remaining. All the great names of major fabricators were, of course, included–Zeiss, Reichert, Olympus, Nikon, Bausch and Lomb, American Optical, Spencer, Leica and indubitably Stattskronerkleinbuerstenklingelhoffenmeisterkappelgruppenfruestenmaschinwerke fuer die Hochtechnischeelekriaitzetsforschungsund wissenshaftliche Gesellschaft der Puffmeis.
But, of course, as all you dear, lovely microscopists know, it’s finally a matter of all the bits and pieces working smoothly together using the highest quality components. Take lenses, for example, the highly-prized apochronics, are a cut above the standard achrobats. Nonetheless apochronics are not suited for use in DIC systems (Deferential Intensity Contact systems). These have such wonderful capabilities, such as, optical straining. Then there are also important phase systems which provide new insights by providing variants of the image dependent upon the particular aspects (phases) of the moon. A technique I especially like because of its implicity is darkfield. You set up a good specimen in brightfield and then tweet it until it gives you the best possible image and then you turn off the room lights.
Another dimension of the estate was the vast wine cellar and I made a firm vow that I would only transport 20,000 bottles to my new surrounds. Fortunately my economically-declined Lance was rather a wine snob and knew all the “best” labels and vintages. A nice medium white is Chataur Poof de Papa. Then there are the superb Marmots and Marmosets which certainly every money-eyed French microscopist is familiar with. Many of the greatest French wines are of the “bored-water” (Bordeaux) variety. And everyone should sample a glass of Chateau Ecam which will indeed tell you that these are modest, over-priced French wines.
Then there are the German wines and one must note that Mark Twain was not a great fan:
“The Germans are exceedingly fond of Rhine wines; they are put up in tall, slender bottles, and are considered a pleasant beverage. One tells them from vinegar by the label.”–A Tramp Abroad
The Germans are perhaps at their best with sweet desert wines such as, Trockenbeerauslese which litterally means “dry berry late to harvest”–in other words, it’s dry rot; the grapes shrivel and are left on the vine to be invaded by disgusting molds to ostendibly age the husk and enrich its flavor. And, by George, it works!! A couple of glasses of this stuff with assorted scones and you’ll know the meaning first hand,of Nirvana.
Most other European countries have their own pleasant little local plonks, but nothing very distinguished. The Bulgarians and the Italians have both been assucsated of adding animal blood to their wines–thus their claims that they produce “bloody good wines.”
The Yanks, I must grudgingly admit, have produced some quite acceptable vintages from Nappy Valley. Of course, most all the vines were imported from France, so eventually, they had to come up with some good vintages. I especially, for an inexpensive wine, liked Menage a Trois, as it reminded me of a time when Lance and I–oh, well, never mind.
I do recall a quite amusing story about Americans and wine. I was visiting some friends in San Fran, as the Yanks, nomiculate it. I had been looking, in a rather posh gallery, at an exhibit of pottery scuplture of an old acquaintance. Her husband was a professor who was obsessed with the work of that oddball Austrian, turned English, Philosophaster, named Wittlesstein. He dissented from a wealthy Southern family who spoke in a hybird English accent and he was a rather unkind snob who made it clear that he didn’t much like his wife Mattie’s artistic creations He would say, “Oh yes, do go over to the gallery and see Mattie’s latest abominations, her most recent sins against nature.” Nonetheless, he did have some amusing stories and one about wine which caused a good bit of merryment around the table. He and Mattie had a friend who was a thoracic surgeon and regarded himself as a connosir of fine wines. At a dinner party, which he headed, he perused the wine list and ordered a $400 bottle of Bored-eau. When the sommelier brought the wine, the good doctor asked for the cork. Someone had told him that by placing the cork near the ear and rotating it between the thumb and index finger, one could “hear” the “quality” of the wine. As he did this, the sommelier leaned over and said: “Pardon, m’sieu, but you are listening to the wrong end.”
So, enough about wine. I’ll tell you about my preferences regarding strong spirits, such as, Scotch, Slivovitz, Gin, Vodka, Bourbon, Rye, Rum, etc., but you might think that I have become a lushious. I will, however, commentate that a 25 year old Scotch is an excelsior from the gods and beyond that with both Scotch and other spirits the rules get terribly complexified. A couple of brief comments: there is a gin called Aviation and it does indeed sit on my palette llike airplane fuel. There are also several that advertise as being the “world’s best”, one of which is loaded with so many herbs that it seems more likely that it was designed as an intestinal purge.
Over the centuries, the family had acquired many religious works, rare volumes of the lives of saints, writings of St. Augustine, paintings, countless boring renderings of Madonna and Child, icons–none of which I can find on my computer–bones of bishops, feathers of Cardinals, hairs of hermits–not to mention, heads of Buddha, sleeping Buddhas, bronze sculptures of Kali, and the list goes on and on.
So, I am sure at this point, you are waiting with baited breath for me, as a well-traversed, sophistic, well-unformed personage to revelate my views on religion. As you might well have anticipated, I was brought up Church of England. As you can image that filitration didn’t last long once I discovered that these clowns encysted that God could only be a super-dominate, totally egocentric white MALE!
The Archbishop of Canterbury got very annoyed with me when I wrote him a long letter suggesting that God might be a trisexual octopod from another galaxy and that He/She/It bore no resemblance whatsoever to humanoids. These male shovinists need to learn some biology. Certain groups of cladocerans and rotifers have learned how to survive entirely without males which at some times is a very tempting conception, but then I think of Lance. But back to religion.
Misfortunately, philosophasters have also ventured into this territory and there are those like the German Existentialist, Martin Heidegger, who quarried “Why is there something and not rather nothing?” My response is: “Because there is!”–that seems straightforward enough. Or silly old Hairyclitus with his pronouncement that “You can’t step in the same river twice.” This is a classic case of fuddlement about the meaning of the word “same”. Besides all one has to do is go downstream!
Nowadays, we have TV evangelists, who are merely transplants from the old-fashioned sideshows presented in travelling tents with precisely the same goal–to con the ignorant and relieve them of their money–which having copulated with large scale financial operations have created a new political hybird-–Econo-theocracy. For quite some time now, it has been prognosticated that God is Money. Well now, isn’t that a revelation!
From ancient times, there were money changers in front of the temples. These days we are more humane and we allow them inside to “pass the plate” so that they don’t have to sit outside suffering the extremes of hot and cold. Then there is the notion of tithing, giving 10% of all that you earn (I take it’s based on gross income and not net) to the god of your choice and this wouldn’t be at all a bad deal, if one didn’t have to, in addition, pay income tax, sales tax, luxury tax, VAT, death duties, etc. In the end, however, these people want you to give everything, your entire estate to them, offstensibly for the furthering of the work of this mysterious, invisible, lazy, old irascible rascal who can’t be bothered to do much himself, so he sends out his minions to do his work, but I keep coming back to the question: “Why does God need money?” Apparently he didn’t invest wisely. If he wants Ugandans to live betterly, well then, let him make it happen. Isn’t he, after all, supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent? It was trilemmas such as these that led me to become an agnostical atheist. Critics ask: Isn’t claiming to be an antheist just as dogmatisical as claiming to be a believer. My answer is “No!”.
I think that to be merely agnostical is cowardly. Can I be absolutely certain that God does not exist? Yes and no. Yes, in terms of any propostulated human conception–in the end, they’re all quite silly with the exception of one, which I base loosely on Rudolf Otto’s conception of the mysterium tremendum. (And you thought I was just another pretty face–well, I’m not. I do have a couple of brain cells left.) To me the tremendous mystery is why and how a self-reflective creature can exist and is condemned not to know its ulltimate origin or end. So there’s my two pence for the bogeyman.
So, let’s move on to politics. I only talk politics with my best friends and my mortal enemies. I count myself as a fundamentlist Aristoteleanist with a pipette full of Plato and a large helping of Nietzsche. As Aristotle pointed out, it is the obligation of the citizens to know the laws of the State, but it is the obligation of the politicans to make the laws intelligible, practical, and concise. Well, we can certainly see what a massive flopdoodle modern polticians have made of that injuction. I’ll site a single example, the American tax code–thousands of pages of unintelligible gibberish! Now there are all kinds of tax experts for various areas, but even they have to consult other experts. And heaven help them, if some poor sole tried to get an accounting of how the politicians are spending his or her money. Well, Mrs. Murgatroyd, your hardly earned dollars are being used to build a multi-billion dollar aircraft carrier which even the Pentagram didn’t want. So, it’s hardly a wonder that Yanks cheat on their taxes and become alcoholics or drug adders. Perhaps the most wretched aspic is that all of these politicians justify whatever monstrous inhumanities they perpetrate by claiming that “It is the will of God.” Apparently not one of them has read Nietzsche and his fateful pronouncement that “God is Dead!” So, what hope is there for politics when the most powerful person on the planet is a demented ape, an Orange-utan! So, maybe it really is worth re-reading Bakunin Cherneshewski, and Nechaeyev, that is the anarchists or it might be if it were not for the fact that, in the end, they were udder madmen too. So, enough of politics; it’s time to call in the alien races in the universe to come in and save us or destroy us.
My,my, after wrestling with such sombero ideas, we should turn to something lighter. However, before we do, I should mention that the moving and down-sizing has been most taxing and I have developed gynmachophobia, the fear of boxes, which has now transmorphosized into a hatred of boxes.
As you can imaginize, in a 64 room estate, over the years there was an accumulation of phenomonistc proportions of tschotskas. Everything from charming miniature cat carvings from Nigeria, ivory carvings of spheres within spheres from China, 3 foot flat wood carving of lizards stippled in a pointillist style, Swiss music boxes, Faberge eggs, and on and on. Many of them had sentimental value and so it was difficult to part with these small wonderful atavistic creations. I include in this category naturally a wide variety of pieces of jewelry. There were several that I was quite fondling of, such as the 250 carat diamond and emerald necklace which belonged to the Grafin Amaretto Climacostomum Hibercainia Kostwaldi von Buessendorf. Then there was the ruby and blue sapphire bracelet which once belonged to Madam Hilde de Honkendonken, that notorious Partisienne courtesan who was the mistress to Louie the XIV. When he was naughty, she would be summoned to whip his bottom with a cat-of-fourteen tails. Nonentheless, one must admit she had good taste in jewelry. However, perhaps the most outrageous piece, and consequently my favorite of those I had to sacrifice was the tiara which was encrusted with 365 splendid gems–rubies, emeralds, with tanzanite, jade, lapis lazuli, garnet, amythests, and red corral. I did however, keep the crown which is a bit more posh and put me a bit higher on the social latter.
But please, don’t feel sorry for me, we all have to make sacrifices for the good of others. The largest sacrifices were, quite litterally, the pieces of furniture, many of which were describable, without exacerbation, as immense. Misfortunately, such splendidly crafted pieces have gone out of stile. Enormous Chipondale sideboreds are simply no longer in fashion and try to get someone interested in a dining room table that seats 60. The buffet cabinets were also of astronishing size and we must have at least 30 of them. Then there are the humusgonus Renaissance chests with all kinds of indolent carvings, ironic straps, and secret apartments. These items were built out of wood that matches the weight of modern concrete. Some craftsmen spent years on the carving of some of the largest pieces and to have to part with them made me sad, indeed I felt I had been led into a veritable veil of tiers.
One agent whom I had summoned strutted around like a ebullient in a China shop and even knocked over and broke some exquisite lead crystal decanters for which I made him pay dearly. He brought along one of his minions who bowed and scraped continuously and behaved altogether like a dentured servant. These types quite disgust me and I told said agent that I would not agree to sell him a single piece which caused him to work himself into a blather.
Another London agent came attired in such extravagrant garb that it verged on the classic Zeus suit and he strode around stroking the furniture as he constantly sniffed and wrinkled his noes. I was tempted to recommend a sinologist to him or a psychologist, but not my own for, poor chap, he’s not as jung as he used to be.
As you can gather from my account this entire moving process was a retching experience. I am a quite privet personage and this constant whirl of people in and out was highly disruptive for me and for the cats and dogs and even for Lance. The cats generally tended to head for a bedroom until the clamor had subsidized, except for General Mao-Tse-Dung, 38 pounds of furry fury and who had a deep-throated yeowl that could make very large men blanche. The Alsations and Rotwheelers were even worse and we certainly couldn’t give them free rain while people were wandering around assizing, evaluating, and generally making nuisances of themselves. However, when I watched these human vulgates wander around sniffing and gesticulating, I was, at times deeply tempted to loose the dogs on them.
Until people move, they forget about all the small items which one accumulates over the years and then again finds them. So, in a sense, there’s is an element of rediscovery–that deja vu, all over again feeling–and, in many instances saying to oneself ”I wonder where that came from ; I don’t rememberate it at all!” And here, I’m not talking about pears of 6 foot Chinese vases or 8 foot diameter Roman bronze vessels, but rather little inlaid wooden boxes that one can hold in one hand and then open them and discover 3 or 4 ancient Greek coins, a lovely Australian opal ring, a yellowed, faded, scented note from a former lover who had exquisite handwriting. Another somewhat larger, intricate metal box which contained a series of 60 thin slices of wood, each beautifully polished and shaped so that each was exactly the same shape and size. I thought it rather ironic to find splendid wood specimens in a metal box. In another small, handsomely bejewelled gold box, I discovered a fine white powder which Lance eagerly expropriated and sampled and then apparitionally disappointed pronounced that is was “merely snuff.” Well! Having long been an oafishianado of snuff, he got a proper, long and detailed lecture on the history, preparation, pleasures, and virtues of snuff. This particular sample which I happened to recognize after sampling was White Princess which sells for about 30 pounds per 1/4 ounce. Not inexpensive, but quite worth it for the boost. Now, what I regard as accessive spendthrifting is paying $1.2 million for a single bottle of Scotch or $3.2 for a Chinese snuff bottle (which had neither snuff nor Scotch in it!) Outrageous!
Oh yes, I understand that you might want to ponfecticate about my using any kind of tobacconate product and I assure you that I have informatized myself on both the virtues and vices of snuff and if you annoy me with your preachments, I’ll simply tell you to go stuff it up your nose!
If you haven’t moved for a while, I suggest that your first step is to go to your local pub and then the nearest druggist and buy several boxes of surgical masks as precalculation against the copious amount of dust. And, if you live in a truly ancient place or a very windy one, you might want to double it and wear 2 masks at once. Any venerable edifice will have dust motes, dust mites, and dust bunnies which under the microscope can provide many a fascinating hour and greatly expand your slide collection of hairs and fibers. And two grate advantages: 1) it is easy to make acceptable mounts of them and 2) many of these subjects are very colorful under polarized light.
The next major obstacle was the weapons collection–spears, maces, the wrack (in case your captors thought you diminutive), canon balls, muskets, blunderbusters, lances, lanyards, nooses, garrottes, ironic maidens, plyers for extricating fingernails, spiked callers, and a wider variety of other inhuman entertainments often employed under the egress of the Church. And knives and swords, some of which, like the broadsword I cannot even lift and I suspect the some medieval twit was making a sexist slur in naming it thusly.
Until one is forced to move, one never thinks about the myriad numbers of small quoteidian things that one uses on a continuing basis. Just think of how many soaps and cleaners have become “necessary”–bath soap, bath moisturizers, deep pore facial cream, facial rinse and pore closer, hand sanityizer, Epcot Salts foot soak, anti-funguy foot cream and the other formula for the naughty parts, nasel spray, eye drops, shampoo, ear wax removers, anti-itch cream, such as hypercortizone, tooth pasta, mouth wash, nail clippers, nose hair scissors, brand-aids, skin moisterizer, lens cleaner for eyeglasses, aspirin, liquid stomach relief remedies, cough drops, menthol chest rub, tincturetto of iodine, and probably several kinds of sleeping nostrumdamuses and, of course, we will also expect to find stronger mendicants for pain by prescription–such items as codeine and valium and OTC items, such as, ardvil, trylenal, and imuprofen. Back in the later 19th and early 20th Centuries, one could make over-the-counter purchases of heroine, cokecaine, and other narkotic substances. From what I read, people were happier then because they staid sufficiently numb to suppress the awareness of their miserableness.
Quite an inventory list, isn’t it? And we haven’t even gotten to householding cleaning products, such as, Draindo (and do believe me these old plumbing systems need lots of cleaning), bleach–I absolutely destesticate the smell of chlorine–, oven cleaner, window cleaner and again, the list goes on and on. How on earthliness did we ever get to the point that we are so enclaved to the products of all of these giant corpustulizations.
And then there is the issue of clothes, shoes, jackets, coats, ties, sweaters, books, hats, and caps. Will it never end? I am remindered of the story about the ancient Asian sage who when asked why he had only one pair of shoes, replied “Because I only have two feet.” Tak that Ismelda Marxos!! As I travelled around the world and encountered extreme poverty over and over, I began to ask myself some very uncomforting questions. I was brought up rather splendidly with governesses, tutors, maids, and footmen, all of whom seemed anxious to do my bidding and I found it all quite pleasing and in my early years, naively, thought that this was the way that everyone lived. However, at a cruxical age, I had a tutor, who fortunately or misfortunately, introduced me to logic, critical reasoning, and ethics and I began to wonder if tutors had tutors and if maids had maids, and cooks had cooks. And that brings me back to the present agony of moving–the kitschen. Just think of all the pots and pans, cutlery, sliverwear, bowls, plates, spatulas, salt cellars, canned goods and goodies (chocolate slurp for example), and, oh my goodness, spices! Cimmanon, ginger, orange peal, garlic salt, onion powder, 26 varieties of pepper–but, none of those halopainy peppers, for me, thank you–mint, paragon, cream of tatar, cartomom, mace, paisley, bay leaves, chilly powder–which is a silly name for it since it’s quite hot–, organeo, basel, dill weed, camelmile, curry, cloves, open sesame seeds, cartaway seeds, salary salt, chives, corimander, cumin, funnel seed, jumpiner berries, ground margory, nutmeg, papricka, sage, suffron, sassyfras, ground time, and dried yucka root. Good heavens, modern life has become so compeixicated, but I fear our longings for simplicity are a self-deceptive phantasmagoric.
Earlier, in passing, I made brief mention of moving the microscopes, but the real problem was moving an entire microscopical laboratory. Not only are there the microscopes, but the transformers, cords, cameras, batteries, chargers, polarizers, filters, extraneous lenses, condensers, prism sliders, etc. And that’s a mere minuscule in relation to laboratory supplies which I must also partially catalog here. If, however, you find this tedious, I recommend that you go spend some time with the O.E.D.
The kinds and variety of tools, supplies, and basics is enormous. Suppose you want to do some dissection and then micro-dissection, well, you’re going to need some scalpels and micro-scalpels, forceps and micro-forceps, pipettes and micro-pipettes–well, I guess you get the point, so we’ll concentrate on the micro-stuff. Micro-spatulas, micro-needles, micro-drills, etc. Then there is the matter of slides, cover glasses, and slide labels. And no laboratory can function without at least 4 types and 3 sizes of Petri dishes. Then, there is the matter of storage containers. Lance teases me mercilessly about my reserves of storage containers. On last survey, there were 87 different types of tubes, viles, jars, dishes, dropper bottles, and small plastic dishes with lids for dry storage. Admittedly, I may have slightly over accumulated certain types, but they were on sale! and I ask you what kind of microscopist who still has his or her sanitory can resist a good sale? One special type of Petrified dish that I especially like because it has a tight-fitting lid is sold only in casesof 500 and companies keep uping their prices so, yes, I might order 3 or 4 cases at once. However, if I start to feel that I have acquired too many of them then I share them with my friends. Test tubes and viles, I must confess, I have in superlative numbers because our lo-cal university, under the direction of a particularly obtuse Dean, closed the Zoology stockroom. There was giant sale and you can bet your last knuckle that I was first in, even before the opening of the sale, since I was a friend of the stockroom manager. So, who, I ask you could resist packages of 144 micro-viles with caps for $2.00? Or a case of 500 samples viles of 20 ml with caps for $3.50. Clearly 3 or 4 cases of these were mandated. Outdated biological stains (still perfectly good, but manufacturers give one a mythic expiration date to increase sales–nasty, greedy men!). The bottles ranged from 1 gm to 25 gm of powdered dye, prices ranging from 25 cents to $1.25 per bottle. Needless to say, I bought at least one of each and current prices are 10 to 50 times as much. I am not parsnipmonious, but these big corporations are beyond the pail.
Also, one must have the basics for an occasional bit of chemical analysis which means having a supply of beakers, flasks, test tubes, condensers, stands with rods, clamps, graduating cylinders, a variety of types of pippets, filter papers, and funnels–plastic and glass, seperated funnels, swirl-fast funnels, filtering funnels, and Barlow funnels.
Naturally, to do chemical analysis one needs chemicals. It is imperative to have a quantity of a variety of types of alcohols: Absolute ethyl alcohol, absolute isopropyl,–at least a dozen pints of each; Absolute Vodka, a least a case; 70% isopropyl alcohol–several gallons–essential for preserving specimens –; a good selection of single malt Scotches (and even a few married Scotches for your less discerning friends), some nice, smooth, not too herby gins; robust vodkas, but none of that silly flavorated stuff like bacon vodka, peanut butter vodka, or pomegranite vodka–all produced to appeal to American teens and preppies with deplorable tastelessness! 1 bottle of Bourbon in case you find yourself in the stituation of having to entertain a Yank. Now, you may think that I am just jousting but, when you have a series of experiments that fail, you may very well require some kind of liquid solicitude. Lately there is all this neurotic nonsense by ostensive doctors who have big pharmaceutical investments telling us how bad drinking alcohol is for us. After your 10th attempt to arrange diatoms or create a thin section of sea urchin spine has failed, your sanitory and stability may well require an imbulation or three.
You will requires large quantites of distillated water, hydrogen peroxide, and sodium hydroxide–these last 2 for beaching and dissolving tissues. Also various acids for dissolving calcium, etc.–well, you know your own needynesses better than I. I am simply aware of the facticity that over the years I have accrued a rather significant collection of various substantials, including some toxicities and solvencies which must be handled with extreme care or not at all and I admit I have often chosen this latter alternative. Chemicals are not to be played with; it is imperative that one knows what one is doing!
Chords, chords, chords–every microscope, transformer, light source, camera has its own damned chords, all of which seem to entanglate themselves into some sort of serpentine orgy. And, then you introduce a lap top computer into the mess and you have a situation that is no longer chordial. This makes one wish for a wireless world. Well, we had that back in the 17th Century and that didn’t work out so well either. I have had to take to drawing maps to show me what’s connected to what! I will have to bring in a specialist to reconnect everything after the move.
So, I think my message should be quite clearly by now–don’t move! Ever!! However, if your fortune dictates that you must, then hire the most reliable people you can find to do the moving and then hire 10 underseers to oversee them and then hire the most suspicious, parsonimonious, cranky, honest crook you can find to keep an eye on all the rest of them. An honest crook , you query? Well, I recollect a definition of an honest politician–one who when bought, stays bought. For the duration then, go on a 3 month world cruise, renewable as needed until the move is complete. Lance and I had a perfect wonderful, tempestic time touring all kinds of islands. However, he did get a bit curmudgeonly at my bringing along 5 microscopes and encysting enfactically that he collect specimens at each location. However, I let him get well lubricated every evening and so we had an absolutely splendid time.
I promise further reportage once we get back to Merry Bald England.
All comments to the author Richard Howey are welcomed.
Editor's note: Visit Richard Howey's new website at http://rhowey.googlepages.com/home where he plans to share aspects of his wide interests.
Published in the October 2019 edition of Micscape Magazine.
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