January 27, 2013

Burns Supper, 2013: Toast To The Lassies Revised

The dirge of winter upon us, we were happy to be invited to one of the season's highlights: the Robert Burns Supper.

The haggis (both traditional and veggie) were particularly tasty, and the whiskies included a Talisker, a Balvenie, two Ardbegs and a very special Bunnahabhain.

There was much delight in readings of all sorts, and even a multi-media rap extravaganza. That is not a joke, it was incredible.

Aya gave an energetic and sincere rendition of the Selkirk Grace while wearing a tiny hat that she had decorated.

Keith had to find a way to up the ante on last year's sideburns.

Our starlit, effervescent Host and our robust, erudite Chairman generously invited Keith to repeat his Toast To The Lassies that he wrote for last year's Supper. That original contained some now-outdated material, so he gave it a re-working and even managed to memorize it. Here it is, with the borrowed bits glossed below:

A Toast to the Lassies.

To honour the Lassies from the heart,
I think we must really go back to the start,
While Evolution's advances may sometimes perplex us,
Its best move was our split into two different sexes,

None of us here, of course, can remember,
What life was like before there was gender,
Think of the emptiness, the complete perversity,
Of life in the time before biodiversity,

But we left that tangled bank1 behind,
And what a pleasure, then, to find,
The act of mating befits the Id2,
Far more than parthenogenesis3 did,

It has been the root of all our thriving,
As we've increased it's been rhythmically driving,
Over aeons, our selections;
Selfish genes4 cloaked in affections,

Now here is Mars, and here is Venus,
And vive la difference between us,
This twinkling binary constellation
Illuminates our primal fascination,

Man's life is enriched by these cherished Others,
Friends, sisters, lovers, wives and mothers,
He's charmed by their wild and graceful eccentricity5,
And clumsily joins in an eager domesticity,

To a marriage a Lassie brings what she will,
Her blend of strength and passion and skill,
She offers her Self, her sincerest treasure,
And a Lad reciprocates with pleasure,

For every man quietly comes to know,
Whether or not he lets it show,
That without Woman there is no Man,
Woman is, therefore I am,

So Eilidh, Shawna, Tracey, Janet,
And Aya (the origin of life upon my planet),
Please take this crude communication,
As pure and deep appreciation,

I've made this project too complex,
While that's a birthright of my sex,
My caveman forebears doubtless would,
Have simply grunted, "woman good",

And now the toast at last is here,
Raise your whisky, wine or beer,
And as we drink don't think me rude,
If I ask that we might all include,

Not just the Lassies in our quorum,
But all their kin who've gone before 'em,
Their living faces freshly bloom,
In every flower in this room.

To the Lassies!

©Keith Ikeda-Barry


January 25, 2013


We were just back in cold, cold Toledo to attend my father's retirement party. This nice little write-up appeared on his company's website. Read the whole thing here.

Chris Barry looks back at 45 years in glass.

17 January 2013

Chris Barry had just returned from two years hitchhiking around the world when he was offered his first job with Pilkington, in Canada. Dismayed by this evidence of a free spirit, one of his new bosses warned: "He's not stable - he's not going to stay."

Chris BarryForty-five years later, Chris is still here. But only just - at the age of 72, he will be retiring from his role of Director of Technical Services, Architectural Glass, this month (January).
Born in Ireland, Chris gained his engineering degree from University College Dublin and worked for Smith Control Systems in the UK before setting off on the extended gap year which so unsettled his future employers at Pilkington.

Read the rest.
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