Saturday, February 18, 2006

Welcome to Crazyville

Yesterday afternoon, temperatures here reached 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22.2 Celsius). We played outside, wore sandals, and opened the car windows on the way home from school.

Right now, outside my window, it is snowing.

It's like the weather's being controlled by a

A lunatic (colloquially: "loony") is commonly used term for a person who is mentally ill, dangerous, foolish or unpredictable, a condition once called lunacy.
The word is borrowed via French from Latin "lunaticus", which gains its stem from "luna" for moon, which denotes the traditional link made in folklore between madness and the phases of the moon. This probably refers to the symptoms of cyclic mood disorders such as bipolar disorder or cyclothymia, the symptoms of which may also go through phases. As yet there is little evidence for any causal link between phases of the moon and the progression of mood disorder symptoms.

In a 1999 paper, Raison et al. put forward the interesting hypothesis that the phase of the moon may in the past have had an effect on bipolar patients by providing light during nights which would otherwise have been dark, and affecting susceptible patients through the well-known route of sleep deprivation. With the introduction of electric light, this effect would have gone away, as light would be available every night, explaining the negative results of modern studies. They suggest ways in which this hypothesis might be tested.
Mental institutions used to be called "lunatic asylums" or colloquially, "loony bins".

In Russian, a lunatic refers to a sleepwalker, literally "one who walks under the moon" or "moonwalker".

"lunatic." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2005. 18 Feb. 2006.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Twinkle, twinkle, little star

My seven year old was Star Of The Week in his first grade class this week. All of the children wrote compositions about him for writing practice.

A few of my favorite lines from various compositions
He is a grate frind and a good pal.
He is cind and a talited gie.
I teenck he has a good tempr.
He has shiny eis.

But my favorite composition is this one:
You are nice. You are a good frind. You let people get in front of you in Line. You play with everey one.

That one made me

1. To radiate light; shine.
2. To smile expansively.
"beam." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 17 Feb. 2006.

At this, I scrunch my face

This morning I learned that there are official "Olympic Cheerleaders."
Say it with me: "Gah!"
Though I have met a couple of very nice young women who are/were cheerleaders, I generally hold serious disdain for cheerleading. I think it demeans women, has nothing to do with the game, and certainly brings me no
cheer (chîr) n.

1. Lightness of spirits or mood; gaiety or joy: a happy tune, full of cheer.
2. A source of joy or happiness; a comfort.

Welcome To My Lesson

I came across this quote today in F1 Racing magazine:

The team... worked through a general engine, ancillaries and tyre development regime.

I was surprised, after a little digging, that this is a proper usage. My own feeling was that the writer really wanted the word


reg·i·men (rĕj'ə-mən, -mĕn')
  1. Governmental rule or control.
  2. The systematic procedure of a natural phenomenon or process.
  3. --A) A regulated system, as of diet, therapy, or exercise, intended to promote health or achieve another beneficial effect. --B) A course of intense physical training.
[Middle English, from Latin.]

Regime, by contrast, sounds to me like a military government; but there it is, #4.

re·gime also ré·gime (rā-zhēm', rĭ-)
  1. --A) A form of government: a fascist regime --B) A government in power; administration: suffered under the new regime.
  2. A prevailing social system or pattern.
  3. The period during which a particular administration or system prevails.
  4. A regulated system, as of diet and exercise; a regimen.
[French régime, from Old French, from Latin regimen, from regere, to rule.]

And of course, neither of these terms should be confused with


reg·i·ment (rĕj'ə-mənt)
  1. A military unit of ground troops consisting of at least two battalions, usually commanded by a colonel.
  2. A large group of people.
Though the verb form ties the three terms together.

tr.v., -ment·ed, -ment·ing, -ments. (rĕj'ə-mĕnt')
  1. To form into a regiment.
  2. To put into systematic order; systematize.
  3. To subject to uniformity and rigid order.
[Middle English, government, rule, from Old French, from Late Latin regimentum, rule, from Latin regere, to rule.]

So this was all a valuable lesson for me, even if it only taught me that I compartmentalized things that are perfectly fine to mingle. Surely I should be old enough now that I don't have to learn any more!, /regimen, /regiment.

Why do I allow this to happen?

I am swamped. My kids are asleep and I need to go downstairs and saw four dowels into one-foot lengths and then make a sample of a ribbon-on-a-stick (think rhythmic gymnastics). Tomorrow morning I have to schlep my children to the fabric store downtown to purchase several metres of bright ribbon because tomorrow afternoon I am coordinating a ribbon-on-a-stick making gathering so these puppies will be ready for the kids to use at church on Sunday.

Have I also mentioned that I am trying to get all of our information/police reports/letters from employers/etc together to apply for permanent residence in Canada? And that we are flying across the continent next month? And that Peter is (finally) potty training? And that we are thinking of moving out of this house? Not to mention all the other regular things I do all week long...

The next ten people who ask me to do something are going to get this response from me:

adv. Used to express refusal, denial, disbelief, emphasis, or disagreement: No, I'm not going.

But perhaps I'll jazz it up a bit...

Translations for: No

Nederlands (Dutch)
nee, neen, nee toch!, geen, (toch) niet, haast geen, tegenstemmen, nr., niet uit (cricket), noord (en)

Français (French)
non, aucun, numéro, nord

Deutsch (German)
adv. - nein, nicht

Italiano (Italian)
no, nessun, zero, Nord, nobelio

Português (Portuguese)
adv. - não, de modo algum

Русский (Russian)
нет, ничуть, север, северный, номер

Español (Spanish)
adv. - no, ningún, ninguno

Svenska (Swedish)
adv. - nej, jaså, inte det, inte, faktiskt

Dictionary definition of no
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.

Translations for no
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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Motion Sickness

Our station wagon was navy blue with faux wood panels. The seats inside were a vinyl that heated to astounding temperatures in the summer sun. And twice a year, once on the way to Maine and once on the return trip, I would get carsick. Most years, I gave enough advance warning for whichever parent was driving to exit off the New Jersey Turnpike. (I only ever achieved full, productive, nausea on the Turnpike.) But other years I went from deep sleep to full vomit in ten seconds flat. Those were the summers we rode the rest of the way with every window open.

Thankfully, I've largely outgrown car sickness. But certain SUVs, with their higher centers of gravity and less smooth rides, still make my stomach

1. To move in a weaving, wobbling, or rolling manner.
2. To turn or roll. Used of the stomach.
[Middle English wamelen, to feel nausea.]
"wamble." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 16 Feb. 2006.

And roller coasters aren't even an option.

What my parents wouldn't have given for these!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I love Scotch! Scottish!

Three Scottish words starting with the letter W:

Used to express pity.

A feeble, imperfectly developed, or slovenly creature.

1. Whim.
2. An odd or fanciful contrivance: gimcrack.

source for all three:

I love Scottish words for being so

1. Created in the fancy; unreal: a fanciful story.
2. Tending to indulge in fancy: a fanciful mind.
3. Showing invention or whimsy in design; imaginative.
"fanciful." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 15 Feb. 2006.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Add strawberry-bacon cream to taste

This morning, I went to the grocery when I was hungry. This is never a good idea, as foods look better than they might normally. But even my hunger couldn't persuade me to be enticed by a package with a picture of frozen...

"Spinach Pancake Nuggets"

What a most unappealing

A mixture.
[French, from Old French meslance, from mesler, to mix.]
"mélange." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 14 Feb. 2006.

(Side note: Lean Cuisine Paninis are pretty decent, though.)

I love old books

Let me qualify that. I love old non-fiction, manuals, especially about social situations, and things concerning children.
I came across this Pretty Little Pocketbook.
And I learned the following sport:
A game formerly very popular in England, and commonly considered as the ancestor of cricket. Joseph Strutt, writing in 1801, says of it: I have been informed that a pastime called stool-ball is practised to this day in the northern parts of England, which consists simply in setting a stool upon the ground, and one of the players takes his place before it, while his antagonist, standing at a distance, tosses a ball with the intention of striking the stool, and this it is the business of the former to prevent by beating it away with the hand, reckoning one to the game for every stroke of the ball; if, on the contrary, it should be missed by the hand and touch the stool, the players change places; the conqueror at this game is he who strikes the ball most times before it touches the stool.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Governator says "Kahleefornya"

Los Angeles is a richly varied place. It's what I love about all big cities. You'll be hard-pressed to find a more diverse population than in New York City, but L.A. has a similar melting pot feeling. Anglos, Hispanics, Africans, Asians.

This makes for huge cultural diversity, with much variance in food and drink, and many languages spoken. And it's but one city in this country's most populous state.

I tried to think of a single word I might choose to represent this vast conglomeration (which is maybe a better word than what I chose), for this land of stringent pollution standards and hippies and 12-lane freeways and Austrian bodybuilder governors and the greatest climate and topography variations of any state.

What single word might serve for the state of California?

How about

or·gan·ic (ôr-găn'ĭk)
1. Of, relating to, or derived from living organisms: organic matter.
2. Of, relating to, or affecting a bodily organ: an organic disease.
3.--a. Of, marked by, or involving the use of fertilizers or pesticides that are strictly of animal or vegetable origin: organic vegetables; an organic farm.
--b. Raised or conducted without the use of drugs, hormones, or synthetic chemicals: organic chicken; organic cattle farming.
--c. Serving organic food: an organic restaurant.
--d. Simple, healthful, and close to nature: an organic lifestyle.
4.--a. Having properties associated with living organisms.
--b. Resembling a living organism in organization or development; interconnected: society as an organic whole.
5. Constituting an integral part of a whole; fundamental.
6. Law. Denoting or relating to the fundamental or constitutional laws and precepts of a government or an organization.
7. Chemistry. Of or designating carbon compounds.
1. A substance, especially a fertilizer or pesticide, of animal or vegetable origin.
2. Chemistry. An organic compound.

Taking a Back Seat to Cars

This weekend was the start of the NASCAR season.

My husband is content. And I am

superfluous adj.

  1. serving no useful purpose; having no excuse for being
  2. more than is needed, desired, or required

"superfluous." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 13 Feb. 2006.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ahhh-lleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

We had a new babysitter tonight. It went incredibly well. So well, in fact, that she's coming again this Friday evening. And if that goes well, I'm going to try her on a weeknight.

The possibilities are making me giddy. I'm

crossing my fingers
also keep one's fingers crossed
1. Wish for luck by crossing two fingers of one hand. This superstitious statement presumably alludes to the much older practice of making the sign of the cross to ward off evil. [Early 1900s]
2. Tell a white lie that doesn't matter. The childish belief that if one keeps one's fingers crossed one may lie with impunity probably comes from children's games in which one was “safe” if one crossed one's fingers, and the ultimate allusion may be the same as in def. 1.
"cross one's fingers." The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. 13 Feb. 2006.

I mean it in the first sense, but this man means it in the second.

What's the point?

It started snowing last night around 6:00 and it's still coming down. The news says we have 22.8 inches on the ground, making this the second biggest snowstorm in NYC history. But what good is a blizzard on a weekend? We don't have to go to work or school today anyway. I'll gladly take a blizzard on a Tuesday or a Thursday, when I have classes all day. But this... this just seems

pointless (point'lĭs)

1. Lacking meaning; senseless
2. Ineffectual