Friday, September 30, 2005

And the winner is . . .

Nobody. Only two guessers and neither one hit the mark, although the comment about walrus tusks was the closest miss. Several years ago I bought Cat a big elephant for Christmas. Since she has been collecting elephants for quite some time, it seemed appropriate. She was less than thrilled. So the nearly three-foot-tall, leather-covered pachiderm stands in my study.
Sometimes I place my eyeglasses on his tusks. Often I put my little black pillow on his back. That's the pillow I put under my chin to keep my jaw from dropping open while I doze in my recliner. (If I open my mouth while sleeping, I snore.) He is both a decorative and useful beast of burden.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Weekend Words E

Still no winners on the photo ID. Well, I guess I will just have to reveal the item in the next posting. OK, on to vocabulary.

First of all, let's talk about EGREGIOUS. I like this word for several reasons, one of which is that it contains my son's name. It means "spectacularly bad," not just horrid, but sensationally so. It is based on the same root as gregarious which means "very sociable." Ain't that a kick? Just that little "e" at the beginning changes everything. (Well, I guess it changes "very thing" into "everything." ~stunned silence before the groan~). So tell your boss, especially if he is rather dim, that his new marketing plan is so egregious, it's beyond description. Go ahead, tell him. I'll just stand over here.

And now for ENORMITY which I almost never hear used properly. Most folks think this refers to the state of being enormous. Well, that's a miserable little third- or fourth-rate definition, certainly not the preferred definition. Essentially, the word means "atrociousness." So, feel free to rave about the enormity of Ethel's cubic zirconium. She'll be delighted and so will you.

(I sincerely hope, as with Uncle Shelby's ABZ book, that you do not follow all the instructions given.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Inspired by Captain Wow

There's another blogger whose writings I have tasted and whose idea I am going to use now. Her site is CaptainWow and she posts photos from her house interior. Below, you will find a photo from my house. Guess what it is. I will send my killer recipe for crispy oatmeal cookies to the first correct answerer.

Hint-it is in my study

Monday, September 26, 2005

Meme (again--see previous post)

Ha-ha-ha-ha! What an idiot I am! Oh, brother, sometimes I really cannot see past the trees. I have been reading in other people's posts the word "meme" and I promise, my first thought was that it referred to a language unit. When you study generative grammar (as I have) you run into a whole boodle of words that end with -eme. A phoneme is an irreducably small unit of sound. A tagmeme is the smallest meaningful unit of grammatical form. When I read "meme" I was pronouncing it as if it rhymed with "seem." It wasn't until I read Jonboy's post that I realized it was "me" + "me" because he spelled it "me-me." Good grief, I am such a dolt.

So, in recognition of my epiphany (no, that is not the E word for this weekend) and because a handful of naggers have requested it, here is my MEME.

Five things to do before dying:
• Win the bonus round in Wheel of Fortune.
• Sky dive, or at least hang-glide, over Hawai'i. Or Fiji, maybe. Or Tahiti.
• Spend time in Australia, and China, and Ireland (not necessarily in that order).
• See my grandchildren graduate from college. (Yes, I realize that they may not want to go to college. Or get married. Or lots of other things, but this is about me, right?)
• Finish painting the kitchen (really, this project has just dragged on too long.)

Five things I say most often:
• "Hello, Virtual Campus, this is David"
• "It's all my fault" (Please note that I only say this when I believe that it is NOT my fault. I am a guy.)
• "I love you"
• "I don't know. What do you want to eat?"
• "Amen"
(I asked Cat for help with this, but she said she doesn't listen to me half the time anyway.)

Five things I cannot do (I presume this means things that normal people can do but I can't--not flying by flapping my arms):
• Make a snap decision
• Smack bubble gum (you know, when you pop a bubble inside your mouth)
• Roll my "R" in Spanish
• See without my glasses
• Understand why God gave me such a wonderful life

Five things I can do:
• Spit very accurately
• Whistle while playing the guitar
• Teach
• Work crossword puzzles
• Make a fabulous chocolate mousse (I modified Julia's recipe)

Five things that attract me to other people:
• Integrity
• Modesty
• A keen sense of humor
• A willingness to learn
• Warm pecan pie

Five celebrity crushes:
• Juliette Binoche ("Chocolat")
• Jennifer Garner
• Julie Christy (about thirty years ago; not now)
• Liv Tyler
• Condaleezza Rice

Five people I would like to see do this:
Well, I would be interested in seeing my two sons and their wives, plus Cat, do this. But none of them blog.


I just wrote a long, thoughtful post and previewed it. Then I clicked the wrong button and lost the whole stinkin' thing! Grrrrr!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Weekend Words D

A busy weekend for me is this one. It includes a two-hour roundtrip drive on Saturday for a conference and a five-hour one-way drive on Sunday for another conference. No rest for the wicked, I suppose. So, I will have to post my vocabulary entry early. Maybe I can take my Sunday nap on Saturday afternoon.


I ran across this word in my studies of church history. The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) was probably the bloodiest European war ever before we figured out how to do it up really big in the twentieth century. It started in Germany which, at the time, was the seat of the Holy Roman Empire (every term is ironic here). The Catholics and the Protestants were bunching up and spitting at each other, so you just know there had to be a fight brewing. When Ferdinand, cousin to the Emperor and staunch Catholic, was appointed king of Bavaria, he ran into a lot of opposition from the resident Protestants. One day a group of Bohemain Protestants appeared before the court asking for policy changes. When the king scoffed at them, they grabbed a couple of his advisors and threw them out the window. And that, my friends, is defenestration--throwing someone out a window. The Defenestration of Prague set off the Thirty Years' War.
So next time your kid or one of your students or a subordinate at work asks about the consequences of some infelicitous action, just intone gravely, "Denefenstration. Now." Of course, in West Texas where most buildings are single-story, that's not much of a threat. More humiliation than anything else. (BTW, the Prague advisors landed in a pile of garbage, so they suffered more humiliation than physical harm, too.)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Weekend Words C

OK, already, it has been a busy weekend. I mean we had Cowboy Day today, so that meant a parade which mostly consisted of small business owners driving tractors or Kubotas or even riding lawn mowers shamelessly promoting their businesses by throwing candy to (or at) the sidewalk gawkers. The Wayland Band was good, but they were just marching to the drummers' cadence (there's a good C word) when they went by us. Oh, yeah, we both had to be there. Cat loves a parade, no matter how small. And she is such a purist that she refused to sit in a folding lawn chair to watch it. Nosirree-bob, you're supposed to sit on the curb if you feel like sitting. I sat in my folding chair on the sidewalk, out of range of the candy hurlers, thank you. And upwind of the smoker to my right. It's West Texas so there is wind.

Well, now to the word. I would like to say that it is CHOATE (KO-it) meaning "fully formed, complete, organized" since that would be the logical antonym of inchoate (q.v.). But inexplicably the word simply doesn't exist--except as the last name of a friend who pronounces it the way that it is spelled. So this week it will be CIRCUMBENDIBUS, a whimsical combination of Latin and English which means an odd way around. Use it when you have had to do things not strictly by the rules. "Had to use a circumbendibus on that one, I'm afraid." It's sort of like a circumlocution, which is saying something in a way that is less than direct. I have on occasion been suspected of circumlocution, but generally I am just trying to express the idea perfectly correctly. I know you will understand; I certainly do.

Oh, here's another C word that I used just today--COMESTIBLE. It just means something that you can eat. It is sort of a circumbendibus for "food."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Weekend Words B

What? Is it the weekend already? Wow, this week just blew by. It was very active at work and we have been sanding and painting the cabinets in our kitchen (ooh, I should post a photo!) at home, so I really haven't had a moment to ask myself, "Hmm, what am I going to do now?" But I know that you showed up today looking for vocabulary, so here is the second in the series:


This is a pretty new word (=neologism) that I came across on the internet. It means to speak excessively, often loudly, "unencumbered by the thought process," as Tom and Ray would say. You have all heard people bloviate; heck, you may have done it yourself sometimes. (I know I have.) A few weeks ago, I was gathered with the full-time religion faculty at my university. We had the task of coming up with measurable learning outcomes for our program. This got pretty tedious since some of the folks were railing against behaviorism and others were yearning to go play golf. But they still wouldn't accept my proposal: "The religion major will be able to bloviate endlessly on topics related to religion with sufficient effectiveness to thereby make a living off religion." Seems measurable to me.

Since B also stands for "blonde joke" I will pass on this one. A college guy has a date with a stunning blonde and decides to take her to a football game (hey, they get in free with their student IDs). It is the first time she has watched a football game all the way through, so on the way out of the stadium he asks her how she enjoyed it.
"Oh, the tight pants and the big muscles were great, but I don't understand all that fuss over 25 cents," she says. In response to his obvious mystification, she adds, "OK, at the beginning, they flip a coin and one side wins it. Then the rest of the time, everyone keeps yelling, 'Get the quarter back! Get the quarter back!' Helloooooo, it's just 25 cents!"

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Weekend Words

Some of my blogger friends have taken to posting special series of posts on Fridays (you know who you are). I wondered what is interesting enough to me to do that sort of thing and it occurred to me that my fascination with words might just do the trick. I know at least 52 English words that are not generally used by the public, so a series on unusual words could easily last a year. Here's the first installment. I think I will do this alphabetically.

APROSEXIA (a-pro-SEK-see-uh)
Now that's a fun word to say, isn't it? Conjures up all sorts of images that have nothing to do with the word's meaning. Just think what they would say at the office in response to your casual comment, "Yes, I am doing a very hands-on study in the effects of aprosexia this afternoon. I'm afraid I won't be able to attend that On-the-job Safety meeting. It's a pity, but research does come first." What your colleagues would doubtless miss is that they would likely be doing the same thing, just in a different location. Aprosexia means the inability to concentrate. So the next time you suffer this disability, you will just have to excuse yourself with something like "I'm sorry but I get so aprosexic while eating chocolate." Hmm, that might be good for a box of Brach's from a secret admirer.

While we are at it, here's another word that begins with an "a" and ends with "xia": ataraxia (a-tuh-RAK-see-uh). This is a state of perfect tranquility. The adjective form is "ataraxic." Perhaps you will want to protect a friend's privacy by telling an erstwhile intruder, "Are you kidding me? You want to talk with her now? Don't you know how ataraxic she is at this time of the morning?"