Odious and Peculiar

Philology and esoterica: scribblings, ravings and mutterings.

O&P's Current Pick:

Forging the Sampo

Odious' Links:

The Little Bookroom
The Pumpkin King
Larissa Archer
Inverted Iambs
Eve Tushnet
Pamela Dean
Kambodia Hotel
Pen and Paper

Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary
Deep-Sea News
NASA's Mars Website
Classics Online
Perseus Digital Library

Nine Scorpions
The Blithe Kitchen
Letter from Hardscrabble Creek
Arts & Letters Daily
About Last Night



Chas Clifton's Nature Blog
Rock Art Photo Blog
Girl on a Whaleship
Nature Lyrics Languagehat
Jabal al-Lughat
Laputan Logic
Strange Maps
Vladimir Dinets: Polymath Russian Adventurer
Virtual Tour of Almaty, Kazakhstan
Aerial Landscape Photography
USGS Earth As Art
Panoramic Aerial Maps of the American West

The Internet Bird Collection
Bird Families of the World
Ancient Scripts
The Aberdeen Bestiary Project
The Cephalopod Page
The Ultimate Ungulate
The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire
USGS Streamflow Data

Worthy Miscellany
Finno-Ugrian Music
Boojum Expeditions
American River Touring Association

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Sunday, December 16, 2007
The White Tiger left, and the Black Tortoise showed his usual abominable character. We were lucky, when the floods came: our house was on a hill and it only covered the road in front of us. Neighbors would reach the puddle, get out of their cars, and tromp up the driveway in enormous boots to find out if they could get through. Pick-ups, yes. One remarkable woman in a minivan, barely. Anybody in a car, nope.

A flood may be the most boring natural disaster I've ever witnessed. Water rises without the drama of a good fire or the howl of wind. It doesn't have a barren beauty to it the way a blizzard can. It's brown, dull, and kills more people ever year than any other act of nature. The town up the highway from us, Vernonia, had more than half its houses flooded and three-quarters of its businesses. Like I said, we were lucky--we only lost the things we had in a storage locker outside of town.

Unfortunately, those things included many of our books. Most are replaceable, but the sight of my signed copy of Tam Lin lying in muddy sewage was a wrench. My wife lost her correspondence from childhood: over twenty years of pen pals, kindred spirits, and her magazine for girls. The Principia Dana gave me for proof-reading it is gone.

These are replaceable things, mostly. They were solid memories, and we still have the ideal ones to treasure. But for the first time I understood Xerxes. If I'd had an army, they'd have been lashing the Nehalem.

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