Saturday, March 11, 2017

Randomday, with Latin Quote Detection

"Men are most apt to believe what they least understand." -a quote by Pliny the Elder, who died in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD

Or was it?

This quote came up today on, where I can frequently be found. I love it when the quotes are classical, not so much when the quotes are by Jack Handey, Justin Bieber or Homer Simpson. In fact, because I'm weird this way, I have taken it on myself to be a bit of a quote detective for any quotes that come up as English translations of Latin authors. I will google and try to find the Latin source quote, and then paste it into the "comments" box that the site provides for the entertainment of its users. In this way I feel I am contributing a bit to the sum total of human knowledge, and not just wasting hours trying to once again reclaim my position on the top 100 solvers of all time (get distracted for a month or two, and the world passes you by. Story of my life).

So I opened another few tabs on my browser and started googling. The English came up quite easily, but many quote sites are inaccurate and just paste other quote sites... you really have to verify. (Quote research is on my mind lately because the Kindle First book I chose this month was on just this subject). This quote was a little more interesting than many I've done because it is also attributed to Michel de Montaigne. I tried translating through Google and did a search for Pliny and words like "aptissimi intelligere minime credere." I googled Naturalis Historia (Pliny the Elder's magnum opus) and some of these keywords and still found nothing. Eventually I found a fuller version of the original: "Men are most apt to believe what they least understand, and through the lust of human wit obscure things are credited." However this traced more likely to Michel de Montaigne, and eventually I found HIS Latin version: Majorem fidem homines adhibent iis quae non intelligunt. Cupidine humani ingenii libentius obscura creduntur.

At this point I figured I was home free and would soon find the quote and its source in Pliny. I assumed Montaigne had borrowed the quote verbatim from Pliny, so I searched those Latin words. It was quite confusing, but turns out that the second half came not from Pliny but from Tacitus, the Histories. And the first half, the one that cryptograms had as Pliny? Well, I finally found the original Pliny, not exactly as Montaigne had given it: "minus credunt, quae ad salutem suam pertinent, si intelligunt." Or, people believe less, in things that pertain to their health, if they understand them. This turned up in several treatises on ancient medicine written in the last hundred years. Montaigne had crafted his take on it himself, not using Pliny's Latin words at all and with the sentiment turned around.

So, armed with this fruit of over an hour of painstaking research, I clicked on the tab of my browser for the Cryptograms quote that started it all... and I missed it by that much. In other words, I ended up collapsing that tab altogether. I was going to note the original Latin by Montaigne and suggest that it should be credited to him rather than Pliny, and also give Pliny's Latin for comparison. But once you collapse a Cryptogram solve screen, it's gone forever, or at least until the next time you get that exact quote out of the randomized umpty-thousand quotes on that site. So here I am, pouring out my Randomday woes to the blog. Such is my life: I am drawn to arcane disciplines that require inordinate amounts of time and painstaking attention to detail, and that nobody else really cares that much about.

What would Donald Trump say? "Sad!"

Maybe I'll just go knit something.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

WIP Wednesday and Yarn-along

That's what I used to call it, right? WIP for works-in-progress, and there used to be a little linky-up thing? Wow, blogs are just so five years ago. Everybody else has probably switched to Instagram. But here I am, still plugging away. It's easier this year, not teaching. I am not regretting not teaching. My house is cleaner than it's been for a long time. Which is not to say it's, you know, CLEAN or anything. I have a series of pictures to share today.
 Here is my friendly nemesis, the Megaquilter. I have finished quilting all the blocks in the main section of my Farmer's Wife Quilt. This is the first time MQ has been bare of the FWQ since 2013, when I started off with quilting this epic project.
Seriously I don't know why I waited so long. I finished the bulk of the quilting (about 80%) in the last month, just by working half an hour at a time, 3 days a week. Though not perfect, it's some of the prettiest machine quilting I've ever done, with lots of free-form vines and feathers. I had a method for those little sashing strips and just kept at it. Everything else went much faster and I learned not to sweat the minor imperfections.
 But now we come to the part I couldn't figure out. The borders are wavy. Not so much the top border, which I quilted long ago and it stayed rolled up on the take-up bar for 3 years (below). It's okay, I think. But the other three borders are wonky, too wonky to lie flat and be machine quilted. I was going to try it with the bottom border (and take off the quilt and remount it so I could do the side borders in one pass at a time), but that bottom border was going to have so many little unintentional pintucks quilted into it it would have been a disaster.
 See, here's the (slightly compressed) upper border, next to the unquilted side border, which just had too much ease, just like the bottom border. So I took the whole thing off the frame. and I am in the process of unpicking and resewing those long side seams.
 Again, it's not perfect, but rather than struggle with feeding all this bulk and keeping the batting out of the seams on my machine, I decided to hand-stitch those long seams. It's not so bad. I got one long seam done today while watching 2 1/2 episodes of Call the Midwife and blinking away tears. I remember piecing my first ever quilt by hand, and I actually liked that a lot. I can ease in the fabric better as I go this way. And by sitting at the dining room table I can distribute the weight of all that bulk fairly well, and it looks like it will be lying much flatter when I re-load it back onto the MQ. It will need to have the white setting triangles quilted on the long sides, and the big feather border on the three borders that are being re-sewn. I'm okay with the occasional pucker on the white triangles, but I am optimistic that this will fix the problems with the blue borders and make quilting so much easier.
Wow, this shot came out blurry. But stitching by hand wasn't so bad at all. Memories of Ohio Star, my first quilt.
My most recently finished project in knitting is this pair of socks for Steve, from almost all of the "Bog Fritillary" Skinny Bugga yarn I bought at Sock Summit years ago. Fun fact: the last 8 knitting projects I have finished (in almost 2 years) have been socks. I'm glad the socks are popular, with the family, but I want to knit something fun for me now.
So, my solution is 4 skeins of Madeline Tosh Merino Light in "Cardinal" and a pattern for Manu, which I've wanted to knit for a long time, like, ever since it came out. I should really finish up my long-hibernating Mint Chocolate sweater to clear up some room in my knitting bag first. There's only the buttonhole band and some finishing to do. But if I get tired of hand-sewing long quilt borders, tomorrow I might find an excuse to wind yarn and make a swatch. 

I'm linking up to Ginny's yarn-along, where many other knitting projects can be seen. And I should talk about the books I've been reading lately: finished Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance... highly recommended. I've been reading the Penderwicks series of children's books, which are delightful and I keep asking myself why I never discovered these earlier, and then realizing they haven't really been around that long, they just seem like sweet vintage books about wholesome kids.