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Archive for December 2012

A Word A Day — promulgate

Good morning, Netizens…

December 30, 2012

Word of the Day

  • promulgate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \PRAH-mul-gayt\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

1
: to make (as a doctrine) known by open declaration : proclaim
2
a : to make known or public the terms of (a proposed law) b : to put (a law) into action or force
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Her ideas have been widely promulgated on the Internet.

“Expectations are high that the EPA will act swiftly in Obama's second term to more aggressively promulgate a variety of new rules and regulations aimed at all forms of pollution, including greenhouse gases. These will almost certainly meet legal challenges of their own.” — From an article by Tom Zeller, Jr. at The Huffington Post, November 28, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

The origin of “promulgate” is a bit murky, or perhaps we should say “milky.” It comes from Latin “promulgatus,” which in turn derives from “pro-,” meaning “forward,” and “-mulgare,” a form that is probably related to the verb “mulgēre,” meaning “to milk” or “to extract.” “Mulgēre” is an ancestor of the English word “emulsion” (“mixture of mutually insoluble liquids”), and it is also related to the Old English word that became “milk” itself. Like its synonyms “declare,” “announce,” and “proclaim,” “promulgate” means to make known publicly. It particularly implies the proclaiming of a dogma, doctrine, or law.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — vacuous

Good morning, Netizens…

December 29, 2012

Word of the Day

  • vacuous
  • audio pronunciation
  • \VAK-yuh-wus\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: emptied of or lacking content
2
: marked by lack of ideas or intelligence : stupid, inane
3
: devoid of serious occupation : idle
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The student's vacuous facial expression suggested a lack of comprehension.

“When the leaves begin to turn and the temperature calls for long sleeves, we stow the whites and rosés in favor of reds. It's easy but vacuous logic. Color is not the most significant factor in drinking [wine] seasonally. It's texture and weight.” — From an article by Eric Asimov in the New York Times, October 24, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

As you might have guessed, “vacuous” shares the same root as “vacuum”—the Latin adjective “vacuus,” meaning “empty.” This root also gave us the noun “vacuity” (the oldest meaning of which is “an empty space”) as well as the verb “evacuate” (originally meaning “to empty of contents”). Its predecessor, the verb “vacare,” is also an ancestor of the words “vacation” and “vacancy” as well as “void.” All of these words suggest an emptiness of space, or else a fleeing of people or things from one place to another. “Vacuous” appeared in English in the middle of the 17th century, at first literally describing something that was empty. It acquired its figurative usage, describing one who is lacking any substance of the mind, in the mid-1800s.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

Arm the teachers or no?

Good morning, Netizens…

 

Good evening, Netizens and friends…

 

For decades of my life I have lived with an underground river of thought, of ever-changing and unspoken sound and fury that has kept me writing about life inside and outside my consciousness. Sometimes this unexpurgated prattling gets me into trouble, even with people that I may have thought understood what motivates me to write, but apparently misunderstood what I was trying to say.

 

However, this constantly-flow of thought has persevered over the years up until just before Christmas this year. Perhaps it is a number of close personal friends who have passed on, or those who are on the verge of falling by the wayside. In my moments of reverie I increasingly ponder our own vulnerability. After all, I turn 67 years of age in just a few days, which I often observe is much older than I ever dreamed I would reach. Still violence seems to be increasing while I watch.

 

However, no issue in the news has more captured my attention than arming school teachers in Utah public schools. Is this a cure for the acts of random violence which has so devastated public schools, such as in Newtown, Connecticut, or is this just part of an increasing tendency to commit great acts of violence?

 

In this picture from the Associated Press, Christine Caldwell, left, receives firearms training with a 9mm Glock from personal defense instructor Jim McCarthy during concealed weapons training for 200 Utah teachers Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, in West Valley City, Utah. The Utah Shooting Sports Council offered six hours of training in handling concealed weapons in the latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants. Is this a cure or merely part of a bigger problem?

 

Dave

 

 

 

A Word A Day — donnybrook

Good afternoon, Netizens,..

December 28, 2012

Word of the Day

  • donnybrook
  • audio pronunciation
  • \DAH-nee-brook\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
: free-for-all, brawl
2
: a usually public quarrel or dispute
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The two antique collectors found themselves embroiled in a spirited donnybrook over the value of an unusual piece of furniture at the auction.

“We are in the middle of a donnybrook about the threat that falling off a 'fiscal cliff' poses for national security (to say nothing of what it would do to domestic discretionary spending).” — From an article by Gordon Adams in The Inquirer (Philadelphia), October 25, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

The Donnybrook Fair was an annual event held in Donnybrook—then a suburb of Dublin, Ireland—from the 13th to the 19th centuries. The fair was legendary for the vast quantities of liquor consumed there, for the number of hasty marriages performed during the week following it, and, most of all, for the frequent brawls that erupted throughout it. Eventually, the fair's reputation for tumult was its undoing. From the 1790s on there were campaigns against the drunken brawl the fair had become. The event was abolished in 1855, but not before its name had become a generic term for a free-for-all.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — mise-en-scène

Good morning, Netizens…

December 27, 2012

Word of the Day

  • mise-en-scène
  • audio pronunciation
  • \meez-ahn-SEN\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
a : the arrangement of actors and scenery on a stage for a theatrical production b : stage setting
2
a : the physical setting of an action (as of a narrative or a motion picture) : context b : environment, milieu
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“Rick Owens creates worlds more than fashion. His shows are famous for their otherworldly ambience, from the mise-en-scène (from foam to fire to electrifying light shows) to the soundtrack.” — From a post by Matthew Schneier on Style.com's Style File blog, November 5, 2012

“Studio pictures tend to have a more controlled and artificial mise-en-scène no matter how elaborate and detailed the setting. The lighting is, after all, unnatural, space is confined, and locations are constructed. The emphasis is more on the interaction of characters and less on the interaction of character and environment.” — From Ira Konigsberg's 1987 publication The Complete Film Dictionary

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

In French, “mise en scène” literally means “the action of putting onto the stage.” The term's use originated in stage drama, where it refers to the way actors and scenery props are arranged; as its usage expanded into other narrative arts, its meaning shifted. In film production, “mise en scène” refers to all of the elements that comprise a single shot; that includes, but is not limited to, the actors, setting, props, costumes, and lighting. The director of a play or film is called the “metteur en scène”—literally, “one who puts on the stage.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — debilitate

Good morning, Netizens…

December 26, 2012

Word of the Day

  • debilitate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \dih-BIL-uh-tayt\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

: to impair the strength of
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The flu debilitated him and left him bedridden for several days.

“Hard hits are part of the game. But vicious hits intended to debilitate a player, maybe end his career, are intolerable.” — From an article in the Chicago Tribune, March 8, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Debilitate,” “enfeeble,” “undermine,” and “sap” all share in common the general sense “to weaken.” But while “debilitate” holds the distinction among these words of coming from the Latin word for “weak”—“debilis”—it packs a potent punch. Often used of disease or something that strikes like a disease or illness, “debilitate” might suggest a temporary impairment, but a pervasive one. “Enfeeble,” a very close synonym of “debilitate,” connotes a pitiable, but often reversible, condition of weakness and helplessness. “Undermine” and “sap” suggest a weakening by something working surreptitiously and insidiously.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

The Simple Season

I remember making bells for the Christmas tree out of egg cartons and foil; this and chain links made out of different strips of colored construction paper and Elmer's glue (or even homemade flour glue). All our decorations were home made. Most of our gifts were homemade. My best dresses were sewn by my mother; toys made by my Dad. Those were the simple days of Christmas.

Our tradition was to put the tree up very late – sometimes on Christmas Eve. It was hand cut by Dad after a drive in the country. It had to be a tree that needed loving. A “Charlie Brown” tree. We would put our handmade decorations on it and then stand around with the only store bought item – icicles – and one by one, we would lay the strands individually on branches. It was a lovely tree!

Christmas Eve day we would make cookies. These were for Santa – but we would test drive a couple dozen before we left them on a plate for the jolly fellow, along with a glass of milk. Every year this little gift would be miraculously gone on Christmas morning. We were in awe! There would even be sleigh tracks in the snow in our front yard. I was always so impressed that he landed in OUR yard!

The night before Christmas we would all get in the station wagon and Dad would tour the town looking at Christmas lights and decorations. We had our tree – but everyone else had “outside” decorations! Every year they were more and more fantastic! Even as an adult, I must go out Christmas Eve and tour the Christmas Village our town has become. It is a magical thing!

Christmas morning we had strict traditions:

* we had to sleep in until at LEAST 6:30 in the morning. (My brothers, sister, and I would stay up all night in anticipation, hoping to at least hear Santa – just once. Never happened – but still the anticipation was delicious and enchanting.)

* We had to have a substantial breakfast – boring, boring, boring – but this one morning it would be individual cereal boxes of sugar coated, not Mom approved cereal.

* After breakfast we could check out our stocking which always had an apple and a banana in it. That was it. Our whole stocking was fruit (to make up for the Sugar Pops)

* Once we were done with our obligatory fruit, we lined up to go to the Christmas tree, shortest first. As the years went by, my siblings grew taller than me, so that when I was 18, the oldest, I was first in line!

* Dad was assigned the Santa duty of doling out presents, one-at-a-time. While one present was being opened, exclaimed over, gushed over – the rest of us silently sat on our hands, whispering ooos and ahhs to the recipient, all the while trying to patiently wait for the next dole-out.

The rest of the day would be wonderfully exciting – we'd feel love in the air, we could smell it! The banquet would be a feast of scents and tastes. Everything was brand new and bright.

We would sleep like lambs Christmas night, tucked in our beds, still twinkling with the sounds and scents of Christmas!

Have a wonderful Christmas!

~Jeanie~

A Word A Day — farrier

Good evening, Netizens…

December 22, 2012

Word of the Day

  • farrier
  • audio pronunciation
  • \FAIR-ee-er\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

: a person who shoes horses
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Since he spent so much of his childhood around horses, it was not a surprise when James decided to apprentice to learn to be a farrier.

“Idling in her cramped workspace outside the Washington International Horse Show, where the day's first whinnies were echoing throughout Verizon Center, the longtime farrier saw a lame brown gelding and an anxious owner approach.” — From an article by Jonas Shaffer in The Washington Post, October 25, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Farrier” is now usually applied specifically to a blacksmith who specializes in shoeing horses, a skill that requires not only the ability to shape and fit horseshoes, but also the ability to clean, trim, and shape a horse's hooves. When “farrier” first appeared in English (as “ferrour”), it referred to someone who not only shoed horses, but who provided general veterinary care for them as well. Middle English “ferrour” was borrowed from Anglo-French “ferrour” (a blacksmith who shoes horses), a noun derived from the verb “ferrer” (“to shoe horses”). These Anglo-French words can be traced back ultimately to Latin “ferrum,” meaning “iron.”

Read more at http://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day/2012/12/22/#Hpf0QRmguTw1rItJ.99

A Word A Day — solstice

Good evening, Netizens…

December 21, 2012

Word of the Day

  • solstice
  • audio pronunciation
  • \SAHL-stiss\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

: the time of year when the sun is farthest north of the equator or farthest south of the equator
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

People all over the world have observed celebrations linked to the summer and winter solstices since ancient times.

“Experts on Mayan culture say that date [December 21, 2012], the winter solstice, simply marks the end of a cycle, no different than flipping the calendar to a new year after Dec. 31.” — From an article by James Figueroa in the Pasadena Star-News (California), November 25, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs on June 21 or 22 and the winter solstice on December 21 or 22. In the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed, the solstices are exactly the opposite. For several days around the time of the solstices, the sun's appearance on the horizon at sunrise and sunset seems to occur at the same spot, before it starts drifting to the north or south again. “Solstice” gets its shine from “sol,” the Latin word for “sun.” The ancients added “sol” to “-stit-” (“standing”) and came up with “solstitium.” Middle English speakers shortened “solstitium” to “solstice” in the 13th century.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — impolitic

Good evening, Netizens…

December 20, 2012

Word of the Day

  • impolitic
  • audio pronunciation
  • \im-PAH-luh-tik\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

: not politic : unwise
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The talk show host's impolitic remarks were often the target of public outrage, but they also earned him legions of fans.

“She'll say what's on her mind, no matter how wildly inappropriate or impolitic.” — From a movie review by Steven Rea in The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 18, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Impolitic” appeared 400 years ago as an antonym of “politic,” a word that basically means “shrewd,” “sagacious,” or “tactful.” “Politic” came to us via Middle French from Latin “politicus.” The Latin word, in turn, came from a Greek word based on “politēs,” meaning “citizen.” “Impolitic” has often been used to refer to action or policy on the part of public figures that is politically unwise—from British statesman Edmund Burke's judicious “the most … impolitick of all things, unequal taxation” (1797) to People journalist James Kunen's ironic “The author of these impolitic remarks has risen to the very pinnacle of politics” (1988).

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

Sarah’s Tale of Christmas

 

Good morning, Netizens…

Like other Christmas stories I have written over the years, this is an exerpt from what I call a living series I call Tales of the City and, in this case, the story is true. Although it hails from a different time, a different place in my life, and perhaps I have taken some liberties with insouciant Metaphysical Philosophy, it is a story of the Anticipation of Christmas. The Anticipation of Christmas can change people for the better, as you will quickly see.

Old Sarah stirred restlessly, laying in the pile of newspapers behind the shopping mall in Century City. Of all the places that she had found to stay, this was by far one of the best. The warm air being pumped out of the mall by huge fans beneath the street kept her warm on even the chilliest of southern California nights.

Normally nobody bothered her here either, as she was always very careful to arrive long after the crowds of shoppers had gone home, and the few security guards still on duty were inside the mall somewhere guzzling styrafoam cups of hot coffee and minding their own business.

Except, now that it was nearly Christmas, she had to adjust her schedule to compensate for the late shoppers that jammed the mall until closing time. Tonight, for example, she had not been able to tiptoe into her customary place until nearly midnight, and still she couldn't sleep.

Images of her kids, now fully grown and on their own, kept haunting her. It had been nearly five years since her divorce from Ben and she hadn't heard much from either of them since. Of course that was a two-way street, as she would be mortified for either of them to see her now. Ben didn't help much
by saying some of the nasty things he'd said, either.

“That no-good rotten drunken bastard”, she muttered angrily, turning  over, making certain to clutch her shopping bag close to her. “Wish his memory'd leave me alone so's I can sleep.”

She had lost her home nearly a year before, about the same time she lost her job at Carlyle's machine shop outside of Bakersfield, and when unemployment finally ran out, she had found herself, at age 54, too old to get another job and too young to retire. Shortly thereafter, she joined the ranks of the
homeless on the streets of Glittertown.

It hadn't been as bad as she had first imagined. Once you learned the ropes, a body could survive with some degree of comfort living on the streets, and it was never boring. Prior to joining the homeless, Old Sarah had never really had the time or energy to just watch people. Why, they were more fascinating than anything she had ever seen. The countless types of people, the voices and the looks on their faces when they thought no one was watching them…why it almost made living on the streets worthwhile.

Now Christmas, there was a matter of a different color.

“People start being extra polite to one another at Christmas, somewhat like peaked frilly white frosting on a cake that tastes bad to begin with.” she had observed earlier in the day to Charlie, one of her few friends. “They simply aren't the same over Christmas, until all the goodness they are supposedly feeling wears off, and then they go back to being their same nasty old selves. What's even worse is the kids these days never learn what Christmas is really about…”

Charlie had thought that was particularly funny, and laughed  until he started coughing. Charlie was dying of emphysema, and living off his pension in an old hotel. He had offered, time and again, to let her stay at his room, but she refused, knowing that the room barely had enough space for Charlie and his collection of Zane Grey novels, let alone her.

The morning damp had moved in, and gray was already whispering its way across the eastern sky when Sarah stirred and moved out of her spot, long before the mall employees or early shoppers began arriving.

She had just stopped off  at one of her usual  morning stops, a MacDonalds that stayed open all night, to buy a cup of coffee and try and filch a copy of the early morning paper.

Frustrated at not finding a paper inside the restaurant, she had  gone back outside, under the glare of the Golden Arches, to check a few of the trash containers next to the bus stop for a paper to read, when she saw the guitar laying on top of a pile of greasy rubble in the dumpster behind the restaurant.

Back in the 60's she had played the guitar quite well, and used to sing in the coffeehouses of that time. That had been one of the things that Ben did that ended their marriage, once and for all, was smash up her ivory-inlaid Gibson guitar during one of his drunken rages.

Surreptitiously looking  around to see if anyone was watching, she lifted the guitar carefully from amid the mix of food and paper containers in the dumpster and set it carefully aside, next to her coffee. On a whim, she dug a little deeper into the rubble and found a battered, but serviceable hardshell case for the guitar, and before she finally quit digging in the filthy dumpster, had found several books of Christmas music to boot.

“Looks like somebody else is having a tough Christmas,” she muttered to herself, carefully putting the guitar back inside the case where it belonged.

She wandered  aimlessly for a few moments, her newly-acquired booty tucked under her arm, until she found the right spot, next to an old, abandoned railway spur, where no one would notice her. Sitting down, she experimentally plucked a few strings, then strummed a few notes. Yes, she could still remember quite a few chords.

An hour  or so later,  as the sun began climbing in the  east, she carefully put the guitar inside the case, and finishing off the last of her coffee, headed purposefully toward where she customarily met Charlie each day. Charlie, as usual, was already there, sitting on the park bench, basking as the early morning sun began warming the little park where they had met, on a daily basis, more or less for the last five months.

“What's you got there,  Sarah?” Charlie peered at her over the tops of his bifocals, as she strode up with the guitar case in view.

“I found this guitar in a dumpster behind the MacDonalds. It even has a case and some Christmas music, 'n there's nothing wrong with it. It ain't busted or anything. What's even better, I think I remember how to play it.”

“Well I'll be damned.”  Charlie took out his pipe and a rumpled sack of pipe tobacco and began stoking up his pipe. “Let me hear you play a few tunes.”

Sarah shyly opened up the guitar case, next to her on the park bench, and took the guitar out. Like most of her fractured dreams, old memories unfolded in Sarah's mind, as she struggled to tune the guitar. She had been there once, singing in front of uplifted faces in the coffeehouses. She had once been a folk singer, back in the 60's, although in those days her Gibson and her voice were both much better.

This  was a good guitar, as guitars go, although not a Gibson, still it had a straight neck, and the strings were not too bad.

The morning waned, and as they returned from their usual noontime trip to the taco vendor, sitting in the park, she played what she had hoped to be her last song for her fingers and her voice were both getting sore. Charlie, who had sat there the whole time, with a beautific smile on his face, tapping his feet to the beat, sighed deeply when she became adamant about quitting.

“Could you sing me a song, please?”

A black child, holding firmly onto the hand of a young woman behind the park bench, was struggling against the woman's insistent efforts to leave this area of the park. He asked the question again, in that same soft voice.

Sarah turned to look at him, and realized that he was blind, for he had a white cane in one hand opposite his attendant. And behind the bushes she could see a small group of children, all with white canes and escorts, getting off of a delapidated old school bus at the curb.

“Why…sure,”  she stammered.  “I'm really not a very  good singer, though.”

“We  used to have a teacher that sang to us, but he died, and now we don't have anyone to sing Christmas songs to us anymore.”

The young boy pulled his attendant, somewhat against her will, around to the front of the park bench, whereupon he prompted sat down on the grass, only to be joined by the rest of the children from the School for the Blind.

“Please…” he whispered softly. “Please sing some Christmas music for us.”

Sarah picked up the guitar once more, inwardly chiding herself for the tremor in her hands, while Charlie smiled that same enigmatic smile of his, and leaned back, puffing silently on his pipe.

She sang Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and then when one of the kids asked to hear it, Jingle Bells. Of course, there was a request for Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and then Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. She played nearly every song in the faded songbook, and many of them twice, even three times.

When she finally stopped to catch her breath, and to rest her fingers, she realized, with a sense of shock, that she had lost track of how long she had been playing music for these kids. The sun was going down, yet the children were sitting silently in a circle around the park bench, their sightless
eyes and faces upturned, as if to capture every nuance, every phrase and tone of each song, patiently waiting for more.

Then, as suddenly as they had arrived, someone from the school, a supervisor probably, reappeared with the wheezing schoolbus, to retrieve all the children. One by one, each of them solemnly reached out to touch her face, and thank her for singing to them. When the last child had thanked her by
touching her face, she and Charlie were once again alone, together.

As they trudged back the way they had came, and as the night dressed itself in its finery ready to take to the streets, in a secret corner of the park, an elderly old man dressed in a moth-eaten red suit and faded red pants, a very special old magician with a white beard known to children both sighted and unsighted throughout the world, peered over the tops of the bushes as Sarah and Charlie passed on their way into the twilight. He had delivered an early Christmas present—one battered guitar and its case for Sarah, former bag lady and musician extraordinaire, who would find it, on her way back to the meaning of Christmas.

The city, contrary to what some people think, breathes and has life. Although we hear so much about the bad things in the city, occasionally, and with no help nor assistance from us, goodness just naturally oozes forth from its concrete and steel barriers and just embraces us. The City lives.

Postscript: Although the real-life embodiment of Charlie passed on in 2000, Sarah, despite her advancing years, has gone on to a well-deserved retirement and currently lives in a senior center in Santa Monica, California. However, I have it upon good report that each Christmas she still makes the rounds to assisted-living facilities, foster care facilities and other non-profit agencies where she plays Christmas music.
  

Dave

A Word A Day — algid

 

December 19, 2012

Word of the Day

  • algid
  • audio pronunciation
  • \AL-jid\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

: cold
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“Lifting the taffeta hanging from the seat under the windows, he stroked the pipes of the radiator. He touched cold metal, metal algid as ice!” — From Carl Van Vechten's 1925 novel Firecrackers: A Realistic Novel

“They knew how to keep moving, with air so algid it hits like a sledgehammer the moment you step into it.” — From Michael D'Orso's 2006 book Eagle Blue: A Team, a Tribe, and a High School Basketball Season in Arctic Alaska

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Algid” is a rather cold and lonely word, etymologically speaking—it's the only word in any of the dictionaries we publish that comes from the Latin word “algēre,” meaning “to feel cold.” Also, English speakers have warmed to its many synonyms—among them “cold,” “frigid,” “arctic,” “chill”—much more readily than they've taken to “algid.” Even its compatriot, “gelid”—also a Latin-derived adjective that can describe ice and arctic temperatures—has managed to outpace it in most decades of the approximately 400 years the words have been in use. In one context, though, “algid” does something its synonyms don't: it describes a severe form of malaria that is marked by prostration, cold and clammy skin, and low blood pressure—a meaning that probably hasn't done much to endear the more general use to speakers of English.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

Stories about Christmas…

 

Good afternoon, Netizens…

 

Every year about this time, I have written or reposted my Tales of Christmas. Some are quite old, having been written clear back into the early 80's and 90's, while some others are more recent. These are gentle stories, expressing in my own way, the subtle and sweet meetings of the Christmas Season.

 

I am somewhat belated this year, largely due to various constraints of work and family responsibilities, but each day from now until Christmas Day, I will be posting one or more of these tales, and closing out the Christmas Season on Christmas Eve, as in years gone by, with the telling of the true story of Christmas from the Holy Bible, just to keep the meaning of Christmas alive.

 

So, from our house to yours, with all the loving nature of the most joyous season of the year, Merry Christmas to one and all.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — lagniappe

Good afternoon, Netizens…,

December 18, 2012

Word of the Day

  • lagniappe
  • audio pronunciation
  • \LAN-yap\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

: a small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase; broadly : something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Diners will no doubt be pleasantly surprised that such a fine champagne is served with the special holiday menu's first course as lagniappe.

“That type of service was common in the country stores and small businesses I dealt with when growing up. At a little grocery and feed store near my home, I even got lagniappe dropped from the candy counter into my bag as a boy.” — From an article by Bob Anderson in The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), November 7, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“We picked up one excellent word,” wrote Mark Twain in Life on the Mississippi (1883), “a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word—'lagniappe'…. It is Spanish—so they said.” Twain encapsulates the history of “lagniappe” quite nicely. English speakers learned the word from French-speaking Louisianians, but they in turn had adapted it from the American Spanish word “la ñapa.” Twain went on to describe how New Orleanians completed shop transactions by saying “Give me something for lagniappe,” to which the shopkeeper would respond with “a bit of liquorice-root, … a cheap cigar or a spool of thread.” It took a while for “lagniappe” to catch on throughout the country, but by the mid-20th century, New Yorkers and New Orleanians alike were familiar with this “excellent word.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — commensal

Good morning, Netizens…

December 17, 2012

Word of the Day

  • commensal
  • audio pronunciation
  • \kuh-MEN-sul\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: of or relating to those who habitually eat together
2
: of, relating to, or living in a relationship in which one organism obtains food or other benefits from another without damaging or benefiting it
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“Florentines in the 1980s still valued their families and insisted on eating together every day, even as they recognized that several forces including television, restaurants, and the rapid pace of work undermined commensal meals.” — From Carole M. Counihan's 2004 book Around the Tuscan Table: Food, Family, and Gender in Twentieth Century Florence

“Nunez's work on bacteria that invade the gut focuses on competition between the naturally occurring, or commensal, bacteria that live in the intestinal tract, and invading pathogens.” — From a press release from the University of Michigan Health System, November 1, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Commensal types, be they human or beast, often “break bread” together. When they do, they are reflecting the etymology of “commensal,” which derives from the Latin prefix “com-,” meaning “with, together, jointly” and the Latin adjective “mensalis,” meaning “of the table.” In its earliest English uses, “commensal” referred to people who ate together, but around 1870, biologists started using it for organisms that have no use for a four-piece table setting. Since then, the scientific sense has almost completely displaced the dining one.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — quadrate

Good morning, Netizens…

December 16, 2012

Word of the Day

  • quadrate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \KWAH-drayt\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

: being square or approximately square
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The linoleum featured a colorful pattern of large quadrate shapes.

“For dessert, Namiri brings out quadrate slices of baklava accompanied by strong Turkish coffee.” — From a review by Christy Khoshaba in the Monterey County Weekly, May 26, 2011

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Sharp-eyed readers may recognize the “quad” in “quadrate,” suggesting the number four. “Quadrate” is in fact a relative of Latin “quattuor,” meaning “four,” though its direct line of descent links to “quadrum,” meaning “square.” Other descendants of “quadrum” in English include “quadrille” (a square dance for four couples), “quarrel” (a square-headed bolt or arrow), and “quarry” (a place where large amounts of stone are dug out of the ground); the latter of these can be traced back to a Latin word meaning “squared stone.” “Quadrate,” incidentally, can also be used in much more specific senses to describe a type of heraldic cross or a portion of the skull in some vertebrates.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

What Can I Pray?

It is the end of a terrible day, with 20 children dead along with 7 adults.  It is beyond my comprehension how this can happen.

What can I pray?  I ask for peace and comfort, as much as it can be felt by broken-hearted families.  I ask for kindness to each other, being gentle, being there.  I ask for some understanding to make sense.

My faith does hold some comfort to me, knowing that each child and each adult who died are instantly in the hands of God.

God be with all who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy.

Humbly yours,  Jeanie

When is it evil?

 

Good morning, Netizens…

 

Despite having a vast overload of work keeping me from my appointed rounds, I could not help but ask a theologically thorny question in the face of the deaths in Newtown, Connecticut, as it has been haunting me since I first heard the news yesterday and saw the President of the United States wiping the tears from his eyes.

 

Or, more in keeping with the deeply-moving statements made by Jeanie last evening, based upon my knowledge of the certainty of both good and evil in this macabre world we live in, I cannot help but ask the question in the face of the terrible events that unfolded yesterday, when does this cease being a mental health issue and when does it become pure evil?

 

Somewhere in Connecticut today, there is a somber and nearly-overwhelming image that hardly any of the news media have sought out: a lovely Christmas tree with presents stacked high beneath its boughs laden with lights and icicles, but the child who was to be there on Christmas Day, with his/her eyes alight with joy has been killed in what I would term an act of indiscriminate violence. Is that not evil?

 

I submit that the only grace, if there is any hope for that, is that 20 lives which were snuffed out have been delivered to a place where they no longer will know fear.

 

Humbly submitted,

 

Dave

A Word A Day — hagiography

December 15, 2012

Word of the Day

  • hagiography
  • audio pronunciation
  • \hag-ee-AH-gruh-fee\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
: biography of saints or venerated persons
2
: idealizing or idolizing biography
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The book effectively portrays the leader's strengths without resorting to hagiography.

“'Lincoln' gratifyingly dodges the kind of safe, starchy hagiography that some Spielberg skeptics feared. Rather, the filmmaker … proves yet again that he is the best filmmaker currently engaging in the form of assiduous research and creative interpretation known as historical drama.” — From a review by Ann Hornaday in The Washington Post, November 9, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Like “biography” and “autograph,” the word “hagiography” has to do with the written word. The combining form “-graphy” comes from Greek “graphein,” meaning “to write.” “Hagio-” comes from a Greek word that means “saintly” or “holy.” This origin is seen in “Hagiographa,” the Greek designation of the Ketuvim, the third division of the Hebrew Bible. Our English word “hagiography,” though it can refer to biography of actual saints, is these days more often applied to biography that treats ordinary human subjects as if they were saints.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

Bad Santa

My one regret as a parent (Oh, ok, I have a gazillion regrets, but this one particular one wasn’t my fault!), and that is that my two sons never got their picture taken with Santa. We tried but failed miserably. It happened that my first son was born on the 10th of December – a little too young for a picture with Santa, mainly because as a new mother, I was NOT going to let just anyone hold my brand new baby. Not even a jolly old saint of a man, wearing red pajamas and ho-hoing loudly, giggling his large belly. No way.

We settled for dressing the baby in a Santa outfit and placing him under the tree for endless adorable pictures.
 
When my son was one year old, I figured now was the time. I bathed him, powdered him, lotioned him, dressed him in a new outfit, just for the occasion, and set off for Santa who happened to be sitting in repose at Newberries in Val d’Or Quebec, where my husband was stationed in the Air force. And, yes, this little French Canadian village boasted a Newberries – right out of downtown Spokane, Washington – seemingly. I was looking forward to some English speaking Santa and elves.
 
We got there, all polished and shining and stood in line for eternity waiting for our chance. So, I don’t know if it was time for a bottle, or time for a new diaper, or time for a nap – I know I needed a nap, and fairly certain my one-year-old needed a nap, and possibly for sure Santa needed a nap too. It was finally our turn, and I started toward the great man of my childhood, so excited! And then suddenly I could feel my son tense in my arms, he took one look at Santa and then slowly held his breath. His face turned red, and then his nose crinkled up, his eyes clenched close, he then made a humming noise, opened his mouth, and WAILED. He sounded like a siren on a careening ambulance, going down for the crash. Arms flaying, legs wagging, lungs screaming. 
 
I took a hasty retreat down the hallway, leaving my $10 behind me – knowing that this child would NEVER sit on Santa’s lap. 
 
When I had my second son the following April, I practiced letting him sit on people’s laps, getting used to it before the big day in December. Only now I had two of them and no matter how much I “rehearsed” the picture-taking moment – we had a repeat, down to the last whimper, of the Christmas fiasco of the year before.  Times two!
 
I just noticed a contest called “Santa Makes Me Pee My Pants A Little” for pictures of those precious moments when our children are flat out terrorized by Santa. I would offer up pictures of my two little ones – but it never happened! And now, the oldest just turned 40 on Monday, I think I’ve lost my chance.
 
~Jeanie~

A Word A Day — schmooze

Good morning, Netizens…

December 14, 2012

Word of the Day

  • schmooze
  • audio pronunciation
  • \SHMOOZ\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

: to converse informally : chat; also : to chat in a friendly and persuasive manner especially so as to gain favor, business, or connections
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Conference attendees will have plenty of chances to schmooze with the industry's power players.

“Children were given the opportunity to try on costumes, test their balance on a mini tightrope or schmooze with the clowns.” — From an article by Sara Schweiger in the Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Massachusetts), October 4, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Schmooze” (also spelled “shmooze”) is one of a small, but significant, number of words borrowed from Yiddish that have become relatively common parts of the English language. Other such words include “chutzpah,” “lox,” “maven,” “mensch,” “nebbish,” “schlep,” and “schlock.” Though classified as a High German language, Yiddish also borrows from the Slavic and Latinate languages as well as from Aramaic and Hebrew. It was the Hebrew “shěmu’ōth” (“news, rumor”) that provided Yiddish with the noun “shmues” (“talk”) and the verb “shmuesn” (“to talk or chat”). Although originally used in English to indicate simply talking in an informal and warm manner, “schmooze” has since also taken on the suggestion of discussion for the purposes of gaining something.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — parietal

Good morning, Netizens…

December 13, 2012

Word of the Day

  • parietal
  • audio pronunciation
  • \puh-RYE-uh-tul\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
a : of or relating to the walls of a part or cavity b : of, relating to, or forming the upper posterior wall of the head
2
: attached to the main wall rather than the axis or a cross wall of a plant ovary — used of an ovule or a placenta
3
: of or relating to college living or its regulation; especially : of or relating to the regulations governing the visiting privileges of members of the opposite sex in campus dormitories
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“In the 1950s, male college students served in the military but couldn't vote, and colleges imposed parietal rules, which kept young men out of women's dorms.” — Harrisburg Daily Register (Illinois), March 27, 2012

“[Tuatara] also have a pronounced parietal eye, a light-sensitive pineal gland on the top of the skull. This white patch of skin called its 'third eye' slowly disappears as they mature.” — From an article by Ray Lilley in The Associated Press, October 31, 2008

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Fifteenth-century scientists first used “parietal” (from Latin “paries,” meaning “wall of a cavity or hollow organ”) to describe a pair of bones of the roof of the skull between the frontal and posterior bone. Later, “parietal” was also applied to structures connected to or found in the same general area as these bones; the parietal lobe, for example, is the middle division of each hemisphere of the brain. In the 19th century, botanists adopted “parietal” as a word for ovules and placentas attached to the walls of plant ovaries. It was also in the 19th century that “parietal” began to be heard on college campuses, outside of the classroom; in 1837, Harvard College established the Parietal Committee to be in charge of “all offences against good order and decorum within the walls.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — intersperse

Good morning, Netizens…

December 12, 2012

Word of the Day

  • intersperse
  • audio pronunciation
  • \in-ter-SPERSS\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

1
: to place something at intervals in or among
2
: to insert at intervals among other things
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The author has interspersed the guidebook with illustrations of the different birds we might encounter on the safari tour.

“Students attend from 8:35 a.m. to 4:06 p.m., in 10-period days that intersperse traditional classes like math and English with technology and business-centric courses like 'workplace learning,' which teaches networking, critical thinking and presentation skills.” — From an article by Al Baker in the New York Times, October 21, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Intersperse” derives from Latin “interspersus,” formed by combining the familiar prefix “inter-” (“between or among”) with “sparsus,” the past participle of “spargere,” meaning “to scatter.” In “sparsus” one finds an ancestor to our adjective “sparse,” as well as a relative of “spark.” (The relationship of “spark” to a word that describes something being scattered about makes sense when you think of sparks bursting or scattering off a flame.) “Intersperse” is often followed by the preposition “with,” as in “a straggling street of comfortable white and red houses, interspersed with abundant shady trees.” (H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds)

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — disport

Good evening, Netizens…

December 11, 2012

Word of the Day

  • disport
  • audio pronunciation
  • \dih-SPORT\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

1
: divert, amuse
2
: frolic
3
: display
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“Dracula builds a five-stake resort for his monster friends to disport themselves unbothered on vacation, but his daughter falls in love with a somewhat dopey human.” — From a review of the movie Hotel Transylvania by Jeff Simon, Buffalo News (New York), September 28, 2012

“A hulking, forbidding terrace, unlike anything else in town, rears up out of nowhere. In its heyday, it was the home of the wealthy with cast iron balconies for them to disport themselves on.” — From an article by Chris Lloyd, The Northern Echo (England), October 24, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Geoffrey Chaucer was one of the first writers to amuse the reading public with the verb “disport.” Chaucer and his contemporaries carried the word into English from Anglo-French, adapting it from “desporter,” meaning “to carry away, comfort, or entertain.” The word can ultimately be traced back to the Latin verb “portare,” meaning “to carry.” “Deport,” “portable,” and “transport” are among the members of the “portare” family.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — pomander

Good morning, Netizens…

December 10, 2012

Word of the Day

  • pomander
  • audio pronunciation
  • \POH-man-der\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
: a mixture of aromatic substances enclosed in a perforated bag or box and used to scent clothes and linens or formerly carried as a guard against infection; also : a clove-studded orange or apple used for the same purposes
2
: a box or hollow fruit-shaped ball for holding pomander
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Tuck a homemade pomander in a gift basket to lend it that wonderful holiday aroma.

“Apple pomanders are still much used to scent linen closets and store with furs to prevent moths.” — From an article by Ellen Probert Williamson in the Roane County News (Kingston, Tennessee), October 1, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

In earlier times, there was more at stake in the use of an “apple of amber” (the literal meaning of Anglo-French “pomme de ambre,” modified to “pomander” in Middle English) than the addition of holiday spirit. Pomanders were used to offset foul odors and were also believed to protect against disease. Early pomanders were usually mixtures of fragrant spices, herbs, etc. in small metal containers, and they were often worn on chains, as jewelry, around the neck or at the waist. Today, we no longer believe pomanders ward off infections, but we still like nice-smelling things, and the word “pomander” survives to name the modern version of this aromatic, decorative object.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum…

Good morning, Netizens…

 

Good morning, Netizens…

 

For most of the year, it lives in the deepest most-depraved corner of our basement, in a little-used closet space beneath the basement stairs, somewhat adjacent to the hot water heater. Each year, in my experience, it is reverently disassembled and put in a pasteboard box for yet another year, and returned to that space from which it was brought forth. It is our Christmas Tree, and although previous to my marriage to Suzie, over a decade ago, I had always used a living evergreen, cut freshly each year and installed triumphantly in its place of honor. Thus it was decorated and once Christmas was over, the ornaments were unceremoniously put back in their boxes for yet another year, and in lean years, the dead tree was used for firewood.

 

Suzie has taught me the importance of traditions, such as a Christmas Tree that lives, unseen and unspoken, in a dark and foreboding place in our basement rather than on some Stevens County back road hillside. Actually our Christmas tree has little to do with its faux pine tree exterior. When we first were married, the Christmas ornaments came carefully packed in two large pasteboard boxes, mostly hand-wrapped in newspaper, some in their original boxes. The tree even lives in a box of its own. Nearly all of them have historical significance, although to ordinary people or visitors, the significance of the history involved depends upon how well you know our families.

 

Some of the baubles and decorations are antiques, or at least qualify themselves as being old enough to remember each bauble's lineage, which may involve invoking the name(s) of the various deceased members of the family from which they came, or the various geological places on the planet where they were purchased. If you went to Billy Bob's Drive-In Restaurant in wind-blasted god forsaken Kemmerer, Wyoming for a quick bite to tide you over on your long jaunt to Nebraska, where all godly citizens are born and raised, and if you happen to see a trinket beneath the glass counter that is calling your name, it might be hanging beneath our tree, waiting to have its story told to some unsuspecting person. Complete, of course, with the denouement that you nearly died of ptomaine poisoning from eating a sludge burger at Billy Bob's, of course. You didn't know that when you impulsively bought the bauble that says, “Kemmerer, Wyoming, Gateway to the sublime”, but the story of your experiences out on the grasslands of Wyoming lives on, hanging mutely upon our tree.

 

Every Christmas Tree must have an angel atop its spire, and our Christmas tree vastly outdoes them all when it comes to sheer tawdry cheek with just enough of a touch of the celestial to make it part of the deepest meanings of the Yuletide. As ethereal and mystical as the old angel looks, however, women, in particular angels, haven't worn gowns like that in multiple decades, which is about how old our angel is. Before you ask, however, our angel atop our Christmas Tree, has an all-knowing smirk on her face that suggests she has seen over forty Christmases come and go and thus she has seen it all, and no, she doesn't wear knickers. No self-respecting angel atop a Christmas Tree should need to be worried about such things.

 

Dave

 

A Word A Day — tutelary


Good morning, Netizens…

December 09, 2012

Word of the Day

  • tutelary
  • audio pronunciation
  • \TOO-tuh-lair-ee\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: having the guardianship of a person or a thing
2
: of or relating to a guardian
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The ancient Romans revered certain gods and goddesses as tutelary deities.

“You can see a similar restlessness in the range of C.K.'s influences…. Indie film pioneer John Cassavettes may be another tutelary spirit.” — From a review by Adam Wilson in Salon.com, September 25, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Tutelary” derives from the Latin noun “tutelarius,” meaning “guardian.” “Tutelarius,” in turn, was formed by combining the word “tutela” (“protection” or “guardian”) and “-arius,” a suffix that implies belonging and connection. A more familiar descendant of “tutela” in English might be “tutelage,” which initially described an act or process of serving as a guardian or protector but has also come to refer to teaching or influence. If you suspect that “tutor” is also related, you are correct. “Tutelary” can also be a noun referring to a power (such as a deity) who acts as a guardian.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — hypermnesia

Good morning, Netizens…

December 08, 2012

Word of the Day

  • hypermnesia
  • audio pronunciation
  • \hye-perm-NEE-zhee-uh\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

: abnormally vivid or complete memory or recall of the past
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“When I heard Peyton Manning might have hypermnesia, I was going to buy him a get-well card. Then I learned that it's a fancy way of saying he's got an abnormally sharp memory.” — From an article by Bob Molinaro in the Virginian-Pilot, January 30, 2010

“'Funes, His Memory' tells the evocative tale of Ireneo Funes, a Uruguayan boy who suffers an accident that leaves him immobilized along with an acute form of hypermnesia, a mental abnormality expressed in exceptionally precise memory.” — From John Brockman's 2011 book Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Perhaps the most famous individual to exhibit hypermnesia was a Russian man known as “S,” whose amazing photographic memory was studied for 30 years by a psychologist in the early part of the 20th century. “Hypermnesia” sometimes refers to cases like that of “S,” but it can also refer to specific instances of heightened memory (such as those brought on by trauma or hypnosis) experienced by people whose memory abilities are unremarkable under ordinary circumstances. The word “hypermnesia,” which has been with us since at least 1882, was created in New Latin as the combination of “hyper-” (meaning “beyond” or “super”) and “-mnesia” (patterned after “amnesia”). It ultimately derives from the Greek word “mnasthai,” meaning “to remember.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

It’s a Wonderful Life

I went out and got the mail and found it snowing, just a little, like snow sprinkles.  It's December already and shoppers are in a frenzy.

This year, more than any other, I am NOT doing the shop-til-you-drop thing, buying trinkets and goblets and niknaks, O My, for family, and friends, and acquaintences.  (Knowing full well, I will see all your purchases given in the “spirit of Christmas,” at every yard sale I go to this spring and summer.  For a buck!)

This year I see my life in a different perspective.  It's more precious to me.  My priorities have changed.  I don't jump on the computer as often or as long.  I appreciate my friends and my family more.  I'm focused on my two new grandtwins.  I am  kinder to people around me.  I listen more and opine less.

I have been through a lot this last six months, in and out of hospitals and doctors' offices, multiple surgeries, procedures, tests.  I thought I would never get well.  But I am.  Now looking back, I think of all the people who have chronic illnesses, some pretty bad, some eventually fatal - and these people usually have a palpable zest for life.  It's not about buying presents at Christmas, going through Black Friday, and mobs of shoppers for days on end.  It's about life.  Smellng roses.  Having a snow flake kiss your tongue.  Holding a baby.  Holding anyone.  Telling friends you love them.  Enjoying little moments every day all day long.

It's a wonderful life!

Enjoy your day today!

~Jeanie~

A Word A Day — tamale

Good morning, Netizens…

December 07, 2012

Word of the Day

  • tamale
  • audio pronunciation
  • \tuh-MAH-lee\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

: cornmeal dough rolled with ground meat or beans seasoned usually with chili, wrapped usually in corn husks, and steamed
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“The Mexican Dinner has a little of everything; the moist tamale and cheese enchilada, both with chili, are especially good.” — From a restaurant review in Texas Monthly, November 2012

“You think I'm full of shame and regret for what I've done now, Sister? You could shave me bald as a cue ball and I'll still be the hottest tamale in this joint.” — Chloë Sevigny in the television series American Horror Story, October 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Hot tamale” is sometimes used figuratively, as in our second example, to suggest sexual attractiveness, but it's the word's literal use that puts it in an interesting category. How many English food words can you name that derive from Nahuatl, a group of languages spoken by native peoples of Mexico and Central America? You've probably guessed that “tamale” gives you one; it came to us (by way of Mexican Spanish) from the Nahuatl “tamalli,” a word for steamed cornmeal dough. Add to the menu “chili” (from “chīlli,” identifying all those fiery peppers); “chocolate” (from “chocolātl,” first used for a beverage made from chocolate and water); “guacamole” (from “āhuacatl,” meaning “avocado,” plus “mōlli,” meaning “sauce”); and “tomato” (from “tomatl”). Top it all off with “chipotle” (a smoked and dried pepper), from “chīlli” and “pōctli” (meaning “something smoked”).

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — nobby

Good morning, Netizens…

December 06, 2012

Word of the Day

  • nobby
  • audio pronunciation
  • \NAH-bee\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

: cleverly stylish : chic, smart
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“[Mrs. Vance] … reappeared, stunningly arrayed in a dark-blue walking dress, with a nobby hat to match.” — From Theodore Dreiser's 1900 novel Sister Carrie

“This 'Members Only' club was where Chicago's nobbiest [people] gathered to shut out people who were not like them in order to lead the good life of golf, horses, bathing on a private beach, and social events.” — From an article by Henry Kisor in the Chicago Sun-Times, November 4, 2001

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Nobby” comes from the noun “nob,” which is used in British English to mean “one in a superior position in life.” (“Nob” may have begun as a slang word for “head,” but etymologists aren't completely sure. A possible connection to “noble” has been suggested as well.) Appearing in English in 1788, “nobby” was first used to describe people of strikingly exquisite appearance. It has since extended in usage to describe the places frequented by such people, as well as their genteel customs. Charles Dickens, for example, wrote in Bleak House (1853) of “[r]especting this unfortunate family matter, and the nobbiest way of keeping it quiet.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — connive

Good afternoon  Netizens…

December 05, 2012

Word of the Day

  • connive
  • audio pronunciation
  • \kuh-NYVE\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

1
: to pretend ignorance of or fail to take action against something one ought to oppose
2
a : to be indulgent or in secret sympathy : wink b : to cooperate secretly or have a secret understanding
3
: to engage in secret scheming : conspire
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

He is not above conniving against his own co-workers if he thinks it will benefit his own career.

“Families fare badly in Western drama. Oedipus kills his father, Lear's daughters connive against one another, and Ibsen's Nora walks out on her husband and their three young children.” — From a theater review by Steven G. Kellman in Current (San Antonio), August 22–28, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Connive” may not seem like a troublesome term, but it was to Wilson Follett, a usage critic who lamented that the word “was undone during the Second World War, when restless spirits felt the need of a new synonym for plotting, bribing, spying, conspiring, engineering a coup, preparing a secret attack.” Follett thought “connive” should only mean “to wink at” or “to pretend ignorance.” Those senses are closer to the Latin ancestor of the word (“connive” comes from the Latin “connivēre,” which means “to close the eyes” and which is descended from “-nivēre,” a form akin to the Latin verb “nictare,” meaning “to wink”). But many English speakers disagreed, and the “conspire” sense is now the word's most widely used meaning.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — cloche

Good morning, Netizens…

December 04, 2012

Word of the Day

  • cloche
  • audio pronunciation
  • \KLOHSH\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
: a transparent plant cover used outdoors especially for protection against cold
2
: a woman's close-fitting hat usually with deep rounded crown and narrow brim
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

You may be able to extend your own garden's growing season considerably by using cloches to protect plants from colder temperatures.

“Another popular hat is the cloche, which rose to fame in the 1920s. The bell-shaped hats come in a variety of patterns, colors and textures.” — From an article by Julia Hatmaker in the Patriot News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), September 23, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

The word “cloche” refers to very different things but the connection between them is apparent in the word's meaning: “cloche” is French for “bell,” and both the gardening cloche and the hat cloche are typically shaped like the archetypal bell. The gourmands among you may be aware of another kind of cloche as well. Covered in our unabridged dictionary, Webster's Third New International, “cloche” also refers to a bell-shaped cover placed over food in cooking or serving. The French word “cloche” comes from Medieval Latin “clocca,” which is also the source of the words “cloak” and “clock.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — hotdog

Good evening, Netizens…

December 03, 2012

Word of the Day

  • hotdog
  • audio pronunciation
  • \HAHT-dawg\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

: to perform in a conspicuous or often ostentatious manner; especially : to perform fancy stunts and maneuvers (as while surfing or skiing)
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The wide receiver hotdogged in the end zone after catching the touchdown pass.

“Benson hotdogged with her usual flair…” — From Matt Warshaw's 2010 book The History of Surfing

  • DID YOU KNOW?
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The verb “hotdog” first appeared in the 1960s as slang for surfing with fast turns and quick movements. Surfers adopted it from the use of the noun “hot dog” for someone who is very good at something, which was popularized around the turn of the 19th century along with the interjection “hot dog” to express approval or gratification. In time, the noun became mainly associated with people who showed off their skills in sports, from basketball to skiing, and the verb form came to be used for the spectacular acts of these show-offs. (As a side tidbit to chew on, the word for the frankfurter that might be eaten while watching athletes perform is believed to have been first used by college students. That “hot dog” was current at Yale in 1895.).

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — scumble

Good evening, Netizens…

December 01, 2012

Word of the Day

  • scumble
  • audio pronunciation
  • \SKUM-bul\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

1
a : to make (as color or a painting) less brilliant by covering with a thin coat of opaque or semiopaque color applied with a nearly dry brush b : to apply (a color) in this manner
2
: to soften the lines or colors of (a drawing) by rubbing lightly
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

He scumbles his seascapes until they are suffused with, and nearly veiled by, a pale golden light.

“Edouardo Vuillard's 'Woman Lighting a Stove in a Studio' … trades the common impasto of Impressionism for a lighter scumbled texture.” — From an art review by Evan Gillespie in the South Bend Tribune, August 2, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
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The history of “scumble” is blurry, but the word is thought to be related to the verb “scum,” an obsolete form of “skim” (meaning “to pass lightly over”). Scumbling, as first perfected by artists such as Titian, involves passing dry, opaque coats of oil paint over a tinted background to create subtle tones and shadows. But although the painting technique dates to the 16th century, use of the word “scumble” is only known to have begun in the late 18th century. The more generalized “smudge” or “smear” sense appeared even later, in the mid-1800s.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

 

Dave

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