September 24, 2005

Mousetrap - 20

Pressing business
Extreme Ironing Bureau
“The thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt.” What that means is that a small subgroup of adventure lovers all over the world now carry around ironing boards and irons (battery-powered, usually) and attempt to set records. Here’s a sample: the first at the North Pole; underwater ironing; while paragliding; while doing gymnastics (pommel horse style, using two irons); and so on. There’s even a World Championship, and the Bureau is its ruling body. No, I didn’t find an Indian chapter. ExtremeIstri.com, anyone? We could do ironing in a suburban local train for a start.

(Not) by George
Bushku
They’re not very fond of the Leader of the Free World, the folk at Everypoet (which is worth a visit in its own right). Their Haiku Generator is a popular web destination which produces technically correct 5-7-5 syllable nonsense haiku. And the Bushku does the same in a unique 3-5-3 syllable form, “’Cause 5-7-5 is too darn complexicated, Laura.” Aside from the sillybub count, a Bushku must also contain a Bushism. You can try the generator or read what other contributors have put together. Or write one of your own.

Past Imperfect
National Mission for Manuscripts
Launched by the Ministry of Culture (no, that’s not an oxymoron), this Mission’s worthy, um, mission is to locate, catalogue and preserve India's manuscripts, and to enhance access, spread awareness and encourage their use for educational purposes. In typical sarkari style, sucky site design and navigation, with page after page devoted to restating its objectives. I’m told that in the real world, they have been very successful so far, though there’s much still undiscovered. Should be site worth bookmarking when they’re done (it’s a five-year project that was launched in 2003), but in the meanwhile, I recommend visiting their photo gallery, which has some lovely pictures of manuscripts on paper, cloth and palm and bamboo leaves.

Werds are all I have
Dicshunary
The net is full of wonderful reference sites. Dictionaries, thesauri, what have you, it’s all there. But this site is a home for all those words that will never make it into the more, ahem, respectable resources. The words - make that “werds” - that “might only exist in the language of one neighbourhood, one family or even one person.” You can contribute stuff from your own private lexicon, and even have a custom (you do the tweaking) version on your own site, so people know what the heck you’re waffling on about. [Statutory warning: not for children.]

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Blog of the week

Are you being served?
Waiter Rant
The view from the other side of the serving tray. Interesting longish posts from a waiter in an Italian restaurant somewhere in America. Anonymous, but good writer, and I’m sure there’s a book deal in his future. He writes about his aching knee, tips, the customers he meets, the conversations. He seems to be the type people naturally talk to - or perhaps it’s his experience working in a psychiatric ward, which he mentioned once - and is a keen observer, so it’s always worth a visit. And here, you don’t have to tip. (Thank you, Annie.)

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to http://o3.indiatimes.com/mousetrap for past columns, and to comment, or mail inthemousetrap@indiatimes.com

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 25th September 2005.

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