Saturday, February 11, 2006


Right now I am looking to my right, and I see my name over there among the league of extraordinary contributors of this blog. Then I got to thinking about the fact that in order to be a contributor, one must...contribute. I haven't done any of that in a while.

I guess that means I'm a

fraud (frôd) n.
1. A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain.
2. A piece of trickery; a trick.
3. a. One that defrauds; a cheat.
b. One who assumes a false pose; an impostor.

I have no excuses, I only wish to ask for forgiveness in hopes that I have not sullied the name of Contributors everywhere.

Tickled Pink

Today's purchase: The Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection!

I've raved before about Looney Tunes, and they represent the best of a favorite genre of mine: the animated short. The Pink Panther continues in the vein of the Looney Tunes, and these cartoons followed in the void created when Warner Brothers closed its Termite Terrace in 1963 after some 1,000 shorts over a nearly 40 year period.

What was unknown to me (back in the day when I paid no attention to such things as credits) was that some of the talent left over from the Looney Tunes effort was responsible for these Pink Panther cartoons. The producing studio, Depatie-Freleng, was a partnership between David H. Depatie and Looney Tunes expat Friz Freleng. Friz had been responsible for some of the very best Looney Tunes, including his share of Bugs Bunny shorts as well as his pet project, Yosemite Sam. Turns out the final run of Looney Tunes (1964-1969) was in fact contracted out to Depatie-Freleng!

These Pink Panther cartoons have the same adult humor, and the same wonderful timing. And the Pink Panther himself is impeccably


Smoothly agreeable and courteous.

Bibliophilia, Part II

I've said it before: I enjoy a good book. But since having children, my reading time hs been cut tremendously. Once upon a time, I used to devour a book in a day or two. Now it takes a week or two.

So far this year I've read

1. Amy Tan's personal essays, The Opposite of Fate : Memories of a Writing Life, which I thought was poorly organized and fatally flawed for it

2. Haven Kimmel's memoir, A Girl Named Zippy, which was deliciously wry

3. Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, which was fabulous and deserved all those rave reviews

4. Karen Joy Fowler's Sarah Canary, which was mesmorizing

And now I am reading Philip Roth's American Pastoral. I am not very far into it, but I love it for Roth's use of words like ersatz and gaminish.

Being an imitation or a substitute, usually an inferior one; artificial.
[German, replacement, from ersetzen, to replace, from Old High German irsezzan : ir-, out + sezzan, to set.]
"ersatz." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 11 Feb. 2006.

In the manner of or resembling a gamin, an often homeless boy who roams about the streets; an urchin.
"gamin." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 11 Feb. 2006.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Yummy! Colors!

Coloring with the oldest, I notice that, like paint colors, Crayola crayon colors often are now named for foods. But somewhere along the way, some crayons have developed a certain attitude.

laser lemon
magic mint
atomic tangerine
wild watermelon
neon carrot
electric lime

And somewhere else along the way, hungry people decided on names.

Granny Smith Apple
Macaroni and Cheese
Pink Sherbet
Cotton Candy

When I was growing up, the food-based color names


were more

1. Marked by, exercising, or showing prudence and wise self-restraint in speech and behavior; circumspect.
2. Free from ostentation or pretension; modest.
[Middle English, from Old French discret, from Medieval Latin discrētus, from Latin, past participle of discernere, to separate, discern.]
"discreet." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 10 Feb. 2006.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What does the Ottoman Empire have to do with my income taxes?

We did our income taxes last night in the middle of our turbo taxing, there was a question about an Ottoman Empire...really, there was, my husband saw it too, but he was too busy trying to finish up, that he just clicked along and I didn't get to investigate.
Does anyone know what that's all about?
I can find anything about it now, nor can I find it in the program.

I've got spirit, how 'bout you?!

I woke up and hit the floor running! I've tackled the piles of laundry that have plagued my basement floor for three days, the playroom/office that looks like a toy/paper bomb has been detonated in it, and I've Dysoned just about everything there is to Dyson. Do I give up or am I thirsty for more? That's right, you guessed it! I'm thirsty for more. Not that my house looks like a hole at any time--I prefer neat clutter, frankly. But today, I just woke up feeling... right! If I had to pick a word to describe how I feel, I'd say I feel quite

Spry: adj. Lively, active, and brisk; vigorous.

sunrise: 7:15 am sunset: 5:57 pm

At 6:47 am this morning, almost half an hour before local sunrise, and with my blessing and assistance, the oldest went out to play in the backyard.

We woke up to two inches of snow. Schools were delayed two hours, but the child's internal clock was not.

Sadly, the snowfall was powder, so snowball fights weren't an option. Even more sadly, 'twas all melted by noon.

Except for the bucket of it in the freezer, which the oldest says he is saving for

a rainy day
A time of need or trouble. This idiom is often used in the context of save for a rainy day, which means to put something aside for a future time of need. [Late 1500s]
"a rainy day." The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. 09 Feb. 2006.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

And for Mothers' Day, maybe Ants' Aunts...

The children presented me with a bouquet of purple flowers for my birthday. I asked the oldest if he knew the name of the flower, and he gleefully informed me they were "Spiders' Mommies!"

(A quick Google informed me they are Spider Mums.)

Much like the children, they are

1. Full of unrestrained enthusiasm or joy.
2. Lavish; extravagant.
3. Extreme in degree, size, or extent.
4. Growing, producing, or produced abundantly; plentiful.
"exuberant." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 09 Feb. 2006.

Objection! Overruled!

I've talked about Law & Order before. In fact, for all the L&O content that bounces around here, maybe Esbee should consider renaming this place LawandOrderism.

Susan tries to sell me on NYPD Blue, which, she says, is "all about the characters." I agree. It's a soap opera. One could blog about a number of words for this show: for instance, surfeit or maybe cloying (he says, ducking).

But in exchange for my suffering thru an hour of her NYPD Blue, our arrangement is that she agrees to watch one of my dreaded L&O episodes on the DVR. She always feigns sleep and curls up on the couch, head in my lap, and attempts to ignore the story.

But she can't.

They're just too, too good!

At the latter commercial breaks, or at the end of the episode, one of us inevitably describes it as

juic·y (jū'sē)
adj., -i·er, -i·est.
1. Full of juice; succulent.
2. --a. Richly interesting: a juicy mystery novel.
2. --b. Racy; titillating: a juicy bit of gossip.
3. Yielding profit; rewarding or gratifying: a juicy raise; a juicy part in a play.

Remember me?!

The old man and I took a short weekend trip last weekend to D.C. We had a marvelous time! We did the touristy thing and visited the Smithsonian, walking from building to building. We even walked right through the middle of a protest! Good times.

My husband and I are country mice by now, living in the 'burbs, surrounded by lots of grass and nothingness. We have really missed the city. We were born and raised in big cities and all we knew were planes roaring overheard every now and again, ambulances shrieking down the street, hearing city buses whizzing by, and sounds of the Fourth of July in October (gunshots, man...). At dinner, we actually felt our age, for once! We were mingling amongst the beautiful people, laughing, and enjoying each other. We're in love, but we never get to dwell on that for long because we're always so busy making sure the family is in order.

This past weekend reminded us of two things that we hadn't forgotten, but things that were just in the background of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. One of those things is our friendship. We've always been fast friends and we've always had a lot of fun together. The second part of the forgotten which was really renewed and refreshed is our

Commitment: n. The state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to a course of action or to another person or persons: a deep commitment to liberal policies; a profound commitment to the family.

Dictionary definition of commitmentThe American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2004, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. More from Dictionary

Today's Aviation Terminology Lesson

Doing my part to bring the wonderful world of Airplanes to Wordaholism, I offer this little nugget.

The speed of sound is one of the key limitations to airplane performance. Exceeding this speed--also called "Mach One"--was once thought to be impossible, and quite a number of people died in pursuit of the goal. The feat was eventually achieved by Chuck Yeager on October 14, 1947 in a Bell X-1 rocket plane dropped like a bomb from the belly of a B-29 at 20,000 feet.

The speed that sound travels through the air is variable depending on air temperature and atmospheric pressure, and at sea level in a so-called "standard atmosphere" it is 761 m.p.h. (or 662 knots). At higher altitudes, it takes a slower indicated airspeed to achieve the speed of sound.

No normal civilian jet aircraft is able to fly into this "supersonic" realm. The Concorde could, which its claim to fame. But for the rest of us, our airspeed indicator--an airplane's speedometer--shows our speed relative to this always-shifting speed of sound. This speed is expressed as a percentage of the speed of sound, and is referred to as our

mach number (mäk)
n. (Abbr. M)
The ratio of the speed of an object to the speed of sound in the surrounding medium.

[After Ernst MACH.]

As an example, a speed of "Mach Eight Zero" (M.80) would be 80% of the speed of sound at a given altitude and pressure. Our speeds are often assigned by Air Traffic Control in this way. "Indicate Mach Eight Four," they might tell us. This is the speed indicated by the magenta ".842" in the upper left corner of the display above.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Brain Candy? Perhaps not

I wholeheartedly admit that I read mystery novels. Many, many mystery novels and almost all of those that I read are written by female authors. One of my current favorite authors is Martha Grimes.

As I was reading along today I ran across a word in The Old Silent that I couldn't define. My eagerness to discover the definition prevents anyone from using the word to describe me...

insouciant (ĭn-sū'sē-ənt, ăN'sū-syäN')

Marked by blithe unconcern; nonchalant.

Dictionary definition of insouciant
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2004, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved

Avian Flu, Schmavian Flu

An Arkansas woman, in an AP story carried by the Washington Post, describes performing mouth-to-beak chicken resuscitation.

"I breathed into its beak, and its dadgum eyes popped open," Morris said. "I breathed into its beak again, and its eyes popped open again. "I said, 'I think this chicken's alive now. Keep it warm.'"

adj. Chiefly Southern U.S.
Used as an intensive to express mild annoyance.
"dadgum." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 08 Feb. 2006.

City Phlegmy

On the A&E network, there is a show called City Confidential, which details a crime in a particular city and discusses the bearing the setting of the crime had on both the crime and its aftermath. I find this an intriguing premise, but I cannot watch the show because the voice of the narrator is incredibly phlegmy in every sense of the word.

1. Apathy demonstrated by an absence of emotional reactions.
2. Expectorated matter; saliva mixed with discharges from the respiratory passages; in ancient and medieval physiology it was believed to cause sluggishness
3. Inactivity; showing an unusual lack of energy.
"phlegm." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 07 Feb. 2006.

10 about Winston-Salem
1. We have a unique
Shell station.
2. A
4 year old girl is missing in our city.
3. Whole lotta
Moravian going on.
4. Dogs and cats must be
licensed here, with non-sterile and dangerous animals costing more.
Maya Angelou makes her home here.
Krispy Kreme was born in Winston-Salem in 1937.
7. The 20-story
Reynolds Building in downtown Winston-Salem was the South's first skyscraper. It was the model for the Empire State Building in New York City.
8. The price for a house with 4 bedrooms inside city limits ranges from
$39,000 to $1,450,000.
9. The
Dixie Classic Fair takes place here every fall.
10. The
Winston-Salem Warthogs put on a heck of a good show.

Discovering Delhi's Delights

I often get queries from businessmen coming to India, asking what they should plan to see during their down-time. Setting aside the inevitable commentary about visiting the Taj or whatever, I’d like to share with you two, shouldn’t-miss stops for any of your future visits to Delhi.

Akshardam Temple: Give yourself 3-4 hours, preferably in mid-afternoon to catch the music-water-light show at dusk. While controversial among some Hindus, I walked away


[Yiddish, from G. stumm] (also schtoom, shtum(m), etc.)
[adj] silent, speechless, dumb; esp. in phrase, to keep (or stay) shtoom
[vi] to be quiet, to shut up; [vt] 'shut it'

Karim’s: Go hungry. You’ll roll out fully

tr.v., sat•ed, sat•ing, sates.
1. To satisfy (an appetite) fully.
2. To satisfy to excess.

Monday, February 06, 2006

S-s-s-s-setting the Bar

At dinner we were entertained by a man who does balloon animals. My youngest wanted a kitten and the other wanted no part of it all. He soon changed his mind. And when asked what kind of animal he wanted, he said, "A snake."

After a bit of stunned silence, the man said "Okay, but I don't know if it's much of a

Challenge n.

  1. a. A call to engage in a contest, fight, or competition: a challenge to a duel.
    b. An act or statement of defiance; a call to confrontation: a challenge to the government's authority.
  2. A demand for explanation or justification; a calling into question: a challenge to a theory.
  3. A sentry's call to an unknown party for proper identification.
  4. A test of one's abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking: a career that offers a challenge.
  5. A claim that a vote is invalid or that a voter is unqualified.
  6. Law. A formal objection to the inclusion of a prospective juror in a jury.
  7. Immunology. The induction or evaluation of an immune response in an organism by administration of a specific antigen to which it has been sensitized.

"challenge." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 06 Feb. 2006.

Pass the salt

plural noun (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
1. A ground, usually white meal of dried and hulled corn kernels that is boiled and served as a breakfast food or side dish.
2. Coarsely ground grain, especially corn.
[Alteration of Middle English grutta, coarse meal, from Old English grytta, pl. of grytt.]
"grits." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 06 Feb. 2006.

There are two schools of thought on grits. One is to treat them like a sweet, adding milk and/or sugar, and/or maple syrup. The other school holds to treat them like a potato, adding butter, salt, maybe even crumbled bacon and cheese.

I fall firmly into the second school. If I want a dainty, sweetened cereal, I'll have oatmeal. Grits are meant to

stick to the ribs
Be substantial or filling.
[This idiom was first recorded in 1603.]
"stick to the ribs." The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. 06 Feb. 2006.

But I don't care for shrimp polluting my grits.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Do You Smell Something?

Life plods on for the Stinky Dog.

We got her from the local animal shelter about five years ago, and the vet to whom we immediately took her for a checkup estimated her age at 10. At that time her right rear leg was already withered and useful only as a prop--evidence, he thought, of quite an old injury--but she seemed in pretty good shape overall. But over the years her hearing got worse and worse until now she's stone deaf, and in the past year her vision has gone completely in her right eye and about 80% in her left. Total blindness cannot be far away. She runs into things now, and if there's much force involved she tips over like Arte Johnson on his trike on Laugh-In. Sneezing--we do a lot of sneezing--is best done laying down. But with proper pain medication she still bounds along on her morning walks, tail high in the air and ears flopping like Dumbo as she pogos stiffly along with her back legs together. She's still a pretty happy girl for the three to four hours a day she's awake.

One other aspect of the aging process warrants a mention. She's nicknamed "Stinky" for a reason. We've had her teeth cleaned three times, and she loses teeth each time. (She cannot abide brushing.) But she's now too old for the procedure--the last time she nearly didn't recover--but she really needs it. No, REALLY. Susan checks her teeth each week when Miss Stinky gets a bath, and they're, well, disgusting. Oh yeah, and loose, most of 'em. She sleeps on a big pillow in our bedroom, and her morning sneezing and yawning ritual can be smelled from our bed, a good 8 feet away.

Truly, this is something


fet·id (fĕt'ĭd, fē'tĭd) pronunciation also foe·tid (fē'tĭd)
--Having an offensive odor.
[Middle English, from Latin fētidus, from fētēre, to stink.]

Say my name, say my name

From a Washington Post column about the potential drawbacks of grocery cashiers thanking customers by name (as provided by customers for discount cards):

"I gave my name as Bobby Mister. So now, clerks say, 'Thank you, Mister Mister.' Some of them get it, some don't. And some are just puzzled, knowing something is going on but they can't quite figure it out."

I find this a brilliant solution. I may just start using a

A fictitious name, especially a pen name.
[French pseudonyme, from Greek pseudōnumon, neuter of pseudōnumos, falsely named : pseudēs, false + onuma, name.]
"pseudonym." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 05 Feb. 2006.

I'm thinking of calling myself Pippi Ippi. I would therefore be called Mrs. Ippi.

Shout outs to Tenzin Gyatso

I just went to see the Dalai Lama this afternoon. It was a beautiful, warm day outside on the carpets under a large canopy, with 2,999 of my closest friends. His Holiness cheerfully pattered on, softly joking and gliding between Tibetan (most of the audience was of Tibetan origin) and English before starting his rather technical, 2 hour discourse on “the twelve links of dependent origination.” This was only the second time I’d seen him in person, but both times he was very

In lively spirits; cheerful.
[Possibly alteration of British dialectal kipper, lively.]


(shaking) Is it safe?

I'm scared to post anything for fear Blogger, the hosting software, will summarily make it disappear. It was very frustrating yesterday; Blogger was incredibly

1. Shaky; feeble.
2. Wrong; awry.
[Probably alteration of dialectal wanky, alteration of wankle, from Middle English wankel, from Old English wancol, unsteady.]
"wonky." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 05 Feb. 2006.