March 31, 2008

The grass is not green. The sun is not shining. It’s cold. It’s wet. The birds aren’t singing. The bells aren’t ringing. But hope . . . is springing.

Must be Opening Day at Wrigley Field. Here’s today’s trick question (and the last one to be sent from this email address):

What is the earliest date for a Major League Baseball Opening Day game?

Glass Whoopin’

I spent my afternoon vacuuming glass out of my grass. I’ll let you fill in your own blanks with embarrassing rhyming alternatives. As it is, the task was an absolute dream. Seriously, nothing says “winner” quite like broken glass in your front yard.

The really sad thing is that it’s been there for quite awhile now. If you’re from the area and remember that super-windy storm way back . . . I don’t know, in the ’90s, maybe, you may also recall that the weather has been relatively crappy ever since. Well, in the storm, the wind blew our front storm door open and shattered the top glass panel. A lot of the glass got caught between the screen and the bottom glass panel, creating a vicious little booby trap. The rest of the glass got scattered into the snow-covered lawn.

Ever since, the weather, our lawn, and my schedule have not cooperated at all . . . until today. The era of humiliation is over. The screen has been cut. The glass has been carefully removed from the door. The door has been removed. And, sweet glory, the glass has been vacuumed out of the grass, which was finally dry enough to be properly sucked clean of shards large and small.

But I’m going to miss that glass and the special feeling it gave me, the feeling that I lived in a convenience store that was recently robbed. Our house doesn’t look like a crime scene anymore, and it’s all so very boring.

Ether Or

No, that’s not a typo. Today’s topic is the word ether and it’s adjectival counterpart, ethereal. In what may prove to be the last etymological discussion in my so-called office, we were actually discussing the fleeting nature of such discussions and how an online forum would establish a permanence our groundbreaking discoveries had always lacked. Our nerdy word conversations now had the chance to survive for posterity instead of, as my friend put it, disappearing into the ether.

I immediately got excited in a word-nerd way, because I had been on the verge of describing the exchanges as ethereal, and I finally realized the connection of the two words. But I had to admit, I didn’t really understand the phrase “disappear into the ether.” I’ve heard it used, but I was always a bit confused as to how the chemical ether would be involved in anything’s disappearance, other than someone who was knocked out by it and kidnapped.

Ether, as explained to me, has an interesting history. People used to think it was the chemical that constituted the upper reaches of space. So when something disappeared into the ether, it dissipated or evaporated into the soaring gulfs of the atmosphere. And something ethereal has a heavenly or immaterial quality. And whenever I do these dictionary scavenger hunts, the search always leads me to words I never intended to peruse. This time, it was rarefied, a beautifully ethereal word in it’s own right.

Good night, now. I’m a dork.


The Going Away Party was a blast. My fantabulous cohorts treated me to a LOST-themed sendoff, complete with Dharma tags on everything, a ticket for my flight, lots of iTunes credits, Edwardo’s pizza, island paraphernalia, Mint Meltaways and other heavenly desserts, a book of goodbye notes, and tons of memories in bottles featuring Flashbacks (memories) and Flash Forwards (predictions). It really was so much fun and so touching the way people went to so much trouble for little old me.

One of the coolest things was the book they put together for me, because it featured everyone’s animal. I believe that everyone has an animal they resemble. I usually can tell pretty quickly from looking at a person what their animal is. Some people’s wild kingdom alter egos are easier to recognize than others, but everybody’s got one. At some point, I’ll post a more developed explanation of the process. It’s kind of a fun thing, although people can get a little too carried away with it. But for the most part, people at the office embrace their animals . . . that doesn’t sound quite right, but I think you get the idea.

Anyway, it was an unforgettable experience, and I’m so grateful to have worked with such fascinating and caring people.

Polar Ice Caps

Dear Adam, I’m freezing, and I’m huge. But every time I burn off a few tons, people freak out. Al Gore thinks I’m ana, but I’m just trying to feel good about myself. I don’t understand where other people get off telling me how big I should be. They say it’s not easy being green. Pshaw. Try being arctic blue for a day and see how you like it. What should I do to get people off my case?
–Bipolar at the Ends of the Earth
Dear Bi,
My advice is simple: melt already. If you want to trim down, I say go for it. The truth is, I think the globe on the whole could stand to be a little bit warmer, and up to this point you’ve been bringing down the curve. So if you want to melt, melt.
The rest of the world will have to deal with their own issues, that’s no concern of yours. You deserve to be warm just as much as the rest of us. You’ve spent long enough isolated in frigid waters. It’s time people on the equator find out what it’s like to be submerged. You just need to think about you right now.
We’ll be fine. Don’t read what they say about you in the papers, it will only give you a complex. The important thing is that you believe in your decisions. Have confidence. Stay strong. Melt away already. The world will just have to get used to a new you.

March 28, 2008 question

Canadian national anthem fans will be happy to know that O is the most common human blood type. So will these people who knew the answer:

Karen H (the H stands for Hemoglobin)
Norris (with bonus points for sibling taunts)
Paul C (the C stands for Coagulating)
H. E. (the H E stands for Heart Emissions)
Heather M (the M stands for Morbid Fascination With Crimson)

So, in the news . . . Wal-Mart claimed they owned the trademark on the smiley face. A judge disagreed, ruling they had no case against a guy who made smiley fun of them. Kudos to you, judge Smiley. You saved the fortunes of millions of electronically distributed colonic-parenthetical smiles, both genuine and ironic, from certain Wal-Martian attack. Thank you, your honor. Thank you. 🙂 Take that, Wal-Mart. Here’s today’s question:

What graphic artist created the smiley face image in 1963? (Blatant, philanthropic hint: imagine a sport played by invisible rabbits).

Diction Addiction

My other new blog is live, which is more than I can say for me. I hope you enjoy it. Actually, for your sake, I hope you’re not at all interested. If you are . . . welcome to the ward.

Yes, I Am Nauseous

I don’t know exactly why I chose this as the premiere post on this blog about words and their use. I just know that it was one of the first word-meaning issues I can remember affecting me. Someone told me that the statement “I feel nauseous” did not mean what I thought it meant. Being nauseous at the time, I didn’t appreciate the additional burden of confusion. What else could nauseous mean than that I felt like I was about to blow chunks?

I think I eventually got an explanation, although the person who called me on this so-called verbal violation seemed to enjoy my multi-symptom breakdown and thus delayed his version of the truth. The basic idea was, nauseous describes something that induces nausea. Nauseated is someone afflicted with nausea. And I believed this myth for two decades.

Until I looked it up. And I must tell you, that is all I do. I get word meanings wrong all the time. I regularly bungle grammar rules. If I am an expert at anything it is my expert obsession with looking up rules and definitions I have forgotten or do not know.

Anyway, I love the fact that Merriam Webster’s Dictionary provides a thorough rebuttal of the “you’re not nauseous, you’re nauseated” lexical legend. It’s like the big brother who comes to your defense against the obnoxious bully. Except you, your brother, and the bully are all big dorky nerds. Still, it’s a comfort.

From here on out, I’ll probably only add to this blog when I come across a word or rule I don’t know or any linguistic irony or anomoly of interest to me. I’d also like to open it up to discuss particularly hairy issues of grammar and usage. We’ll see. For now, I’m out.

And no, I’m not actually nauseous at the moment. I’m just a dork.