Saturday, September 24, 2005

ragtag and bobtail

The first time I heard this phrase used was yesterday. I had no idea what it meant, but thought it sounded sort of folksy-sweet. There's a lot of that here. The context alone clued me in that it wasn't meant sweetly, though.

ragtag and bobtail
A group of persons regarded as the lowest class. Synonyms: dregs, lumpenproletariat, rabble, riffraff, trash. Slang: scum. Idioms: scum of the earth, tag and rag, the great unwashed.

I have no idea how that concept makes an appropriate children's TV program, though.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Pucka up!

Pucka up and kiss your career goodbye, Mr. Stevens. Not that forecasting weather in Pocatello, Idaho, is much of a career to miss.

Scott Stevens, erstwhile television meteorologist, promotes the theory that the weather can be, and is, controlled by nefarious organizations in an effort to bring down the United States. His website, Weather Wars details the "bulging files of evidence." Today he quit his day job to devote his full attention to this crisis. A patriot, truly.

While I deem his theory to be a load of hooey, his website sure looks pucka.

variant of pukka, meaning authentic, genuine or superior, first-class.


On the way to school this morning, my son spotted a Lost Dog poster. He was slightly appalled to hear that one would be rewarded for returning the dog; he thinks one should do it without a financial incentive. He's right of course.

A reward; recompense.
To reward.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin widerdōnum, alteration (influenced by Latin dōnum, gift) of Old High German widarlōn : widar, back, against + lōn, reward.]

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Mixed Nuts

I couldn't figure out what the squat, round nuts in our jar of mixed nuts were, so I checked the label. The only nut listed I couldn't readily place was "filbert". Filbert?

cultivated hazelnut.
[Middle English, from Old French (nois de) filbert, (nut of) Philbert, after Saint Philibert (died 684), whose feast day in late August coincides with the ripening of the nut.]

They're my oldest son's favorites in the whole jar.

pajamas, not just for bananas anymore

My opinion on the acceptance of public pajamas is two fold:
I have always felt strongly that kids should be able to dress however they want, color their hair, pierce their nose-- whatever and schools shouldn't waste their time regulating it, unless it's indecent exposure(like butt cheeks peeking out of a mini skirt) or promotes hate (like a T-shirt that says "Die Canadians").
However, in general, I feel Americans are incredibly sloppy, embarrassingly so when compared to other countries. When traveling abroad, it's easy to spot the Americans because they'll be wearing workout clothes and cross-trainers with tube socks. C'mon raise the bar of self respect, fellow citizens! I'm not saying you need to spend more time and money-- just say no to dumpy clothes. If you're not an athelete, don't wear track suits. And just because a T-shirt is free, doesn't mean you have to wear it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


My oldest's class went on a field trip yesterday. They had to be at school at 7 a.m. to leave. It was still quite foggy at that hour. The sun was just coming up, so the light was indirect and low. As we came up the hill of his school's driveway, the building appeared to be separately enveloped in a protective mist. From the backseat, I heard an impressed voice murmer, "Whoa, a force field. Cool."

1. The emotion aroused by something awe-inspiring or astounding.
2. One that evokes great surprise and admiration.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

How do children survive childhood?

My oldest, especially, seems almost honorbound to test Darwin's theory. He just doesn't think bad ideas through. And he has oh so many of them.

Lacking a sense of responsibility; reckless.
With abandon; recklessly.

I do so love him to bits, though.

Monday, September 19, 2005

It's coming!

Oda Mae Brown: Damn baby, what'd you do to yo hair?
Ortisha: Orlando, you like it? It's "autumn sunrise."
L'automne est un deuxième printemps où chaque feuille est une fleur.
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf's a flower.
Albert Camus
Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.
David Letterman
Deep inside, we're still the boys of autumn, that magic time of the year that once swept us onto America's fields.
Archie Manning
1. The season of the year between summer and winter, lasting from the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice and from September to December in the Northern Hemisphere; fall.
2. A period of maturity verging on decline.

"I'm gonna be RICH!"

My oldest son's class is taking a field trip to go gem mining. There are lots of mines here in North Carolina, most of which have open-air flumes. My son is convinced he is going to find enormous gems that will bring him great wealth.

When I was the same age, I used to walk around holding a forked tree branch just so, convinced that I could discover water, gems, or maybe even oil! in my own backyard and then promptly retire.

Dowsing is a controversial method of divination which dowsers say empowers them to find water, metals, gem stones and hidden objects by carrying some form of stick and watching its motion while walking over a piece of land. However repeated tests under controlled conditions have failed to provide support for this claim.

Dowsers, sometimes known as diviners, also use a forked branch of a tree, bent pieces of metal or plastic wire, or a small pendulum. Some people use no pointing device at all.
"dowsing." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2005. GuruNet Corp. 19 Sep. 2005.

I'll note at this time that while I never found water nor oil (nor anything, really), while looking at information for this entry, I realized that according to the great majority of the dowsing community, I was holding the dowsing rod incorrectly the entire time!

I held it palms down, as seen above. Apparently, one is supposed to hold it like so.

I could have been long retired by now.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Chorizo, Cantimpalos style
Bootcut jeans
What Not To Wear - BBC version
The Washington Post
Celia Cruz
My family recipe for pound cake
Tacos al Carbón from Guapo's
Will Smith

mother of
The best or greatest of a type, as in That was the mother of all tennis matches. This expression originated during the Gulf War as a translation of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's term umm al-ma'arik, for “major battle”; the Arabic “mother of” is a figure of speech for “major” or “best.” It was quickly adopted and applied to just about any person, event, thing, or activity. [Slang; late 1980s]

"mother of." The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. GuruNet Corp. 18 Sep. 2005.


Eve-teasing n.

harassment of, or sexually aggressive behavior toward, women or girls. A euphemism used in India for sexual harassment or molestation of women by men.



Urgent: adj.
  1. Compelling immediate action or attention; pressing.
  2. Insistent or importunate: the urgent words “Hurry! Hurry!”
  3. Conveying a sense of pressing importance: an urgent message.
There is a time to every season. Sometimes we should wait and see. Sometimes we need to act boldly, even in the face of uncertainty. Now is one of those times.

My fantasy: that every government in the world would make this the required reading for their relevant health, agriculture, environmental, and interior ministries. The key is surveillance, diagnosis, and segregation. If they don't, things could go badly.

The virus keeps on mutating ("antigenic shift/drift") and WILL jump to humans (ask 112 families in SE Asia) in a highly virulent, highly pathogenic form. As I heard someone describe it (paraphrasing), if you keep rolling a pair of dice, one of these times you'll roll snake-eyes. If not this year...

The Empress's New Clothes

So I finish up the Sunday paper this morning and turn to the inserts. Apparently it's still fashionable to wear a satin camisole in lieu of a shirt. In public. With no other top.

I keep wanting to stop women dressed thusly and whisper, "Psst, you forgot to put your blouse on."

It's not from a place of cattiness either. I was brought up to view camisoles as lingerie. I am always taken aback to see them out and about at PTA meetings and at church and such, as if the wearers are unaware that their undergarments are showing.

Apparel worn beneath outer garments; underclothing.
1. To dress too informally for the occasion.
2. To dress without sufficient warmth.